Spelman College student Mary-Pat Hector said she’s no stranger to social activism, which is why she decided to run for Stonecrest’s city council.
After submitting her qualifying application, Hector said she thought everything was in order until she received news that her age could be an issue.
Hector, 19, is having her age qualifications challenged by District 4 opponent George Turner. Hector, who is the national youth director for Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Now, held a press conference Feb. 2 at the steps of the Historic DeKalb Courthouse.
“They want our votes, but not our voices,” said Hector in front of a crowd of media members and supporters. “A lot of my peers stated they didn’t believe in the political process anymore, that they did not believe in our elected officials. It broke my heart a few days ago when I had to go to those same young people and see the same looks on their face that they had Nov. 8 when I told them that our race was being contested.”
Hector had a few notable supporters at the press conference, among them were Fulton County District 5 Commissioner Marvin Arrington Jr, who is also acting as Hector’s attorney.
In the press conference Arrington said he was “confident” that the DeKalb County Elections Board would side in favor of Hector.
“After we win the hearing we’re going to go win the election,” Arrington said. “We’re confident that we will prevail. The Constitution is the Constitution…we’re confident because we’re standing on the Georgia Constitution and the United States Constitution.”
According to Georgia statute O.C.G.A-45-2-1 “persons who are not citizens of this state and persons under the age of 21 years; provided, however, that upon passage of appropriate local ordinances, citizens of this state who are otherwise qualified and who have attained 18 years of age shall be eligible to hold any county or municipal office, except such offices of a judicial nature.”
Senate Bill 208 states that candidates must be of voting age to be qualified to run.
A hearing is scheduled for Feb. 9 at 4:30 p.m. if approved, Hector will run against Geraldine Champion, Jesse Cunningham, Jonathan Phillips and Turner. The election is scheduled for March 21.
Hector said she has spoken with Turner since the challenge and they “were friendly” toward each other.
“We think it’s a desperate attempt by a desperate person,” Arrington said.
Hector said before applying to run for Stonecrest City Council seat, many of her supporters contacted the DeKalb County Voter Registration Election office to ensure her candidacy was legitimate before donating money to the campaign.
“I was told by that office that I did qualify and that I met all qualifications according to the charter. From that day, they knew my age and they knew my age even before I went to qualify on Jan. 9,” Hector said. “I received all of my paperwork and my name is still currently on the ballot.”
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