Brown Says Coppinger Accepted UnifiEd Help; Has Been Silent On Group Denounced By Boyd; Fairbanks, Smedley Get UnifiEd Aid; They Say Others Fought For Group's Blessing

Thursday, May 17, 2018
Aloyse Brown, candidate for Hamilton County Mayor, released the following statement:

“I’ve been monitoring the recent controversy involving Hamilton County School Board members, advocacy group UnifiEd, and other local leaders. Like many Hamilton County residents, I am concerned.

"Mayor Jim Coppinger, who accepted an endorsement from UnifiEd, has been silent on this issue. In previous community forums he has clearly stated that he is in favor of the socio-economic desegregation of our schools.

However, his progressive stance is only necessary because of his own consistent failures of leadership on the issue of public school funding. In short, we should never have gotten to this point. This is negligence - negligence that is apparent in a $257 million backlog of deferred maintenance in our school’s facilities.

The Unified PAC's latest financial disclosure lists $1,762 in printing and staff time going to County Mayor Coppinger.

The group gave County Commission Chairman Randy Fairbanks $750 and listed $31 in printing and staff help for the Fairbanks campaign. UnifieE gave $500 to Vice Chairman Sabrena Smedley as well as $3.49 in staff help. 

County Mayor Coppinger said, "My record on education speaks for itself. I have been a uniter and not a divider. My concern is for the students, the parents and the teachers. I refuse to engage in any political rhetoric."

Chairman Fairbanks said, "I was invited to meet with them and share my feelings towards education in Hamilton County. I showed them my work I had done in the schools in my district since being elected.  I told them I was going to support our new superintendent 100 percent.  The only question I had for them was are they advocating busing kids across town. They told me point blank, they were not. I said ok because I wouldn’t support that.  I discussed with them my agreement with the local business people’s suggestion to hire a CFO and COO to run our schools as a business. They never discussed “liberal” agendas mentioned lately. The news media should check on the ones that sought their endorsement  and didn’t get it. They are the ones yelling the loudest. They should check on my fellow commissioners, as well as the mayoral candidate. It is simply sour grapes."

“One of the most respected individuals in my district, Steve Slater served on that Apex committee. He is one of the most conservative people I know. I don’t believe he would promote a Liberal agenda.”

Vice Chairman Smedley said, "I'm a little puzzled that a lot of folks making the strongest statements against Unified were ones fighting the hardest to get their endorsement. I am not real familiar with Unified, but I will never go along with a liberal agenda. I am a strong conservative. I did not fill out their questionnaire, but after they called me I did go meet with them as a public official should be willing to do. I told them my track record on education is strong. I arranged for four joint meetings between the commission and school board and I believe that helped bring the two bodies closer together."i

County Commissioner Tim Boyd said Wednesday that Unified is a "far left liberal" group that is "pushing to change our way of life."

The group is credited with bringing the recent election defeat of longtime Commissioner Greg Beck.

Ms. Brown said, “The very fact that UnifiEd is calling on Hamilton County schools to adopt desegregation measures is a direct result of ineffective and short-sighted public school funding choices that have a discriminating effect on families of limited means.

“Fixing the shortcomings in our public education system is a matter of choice - a choice that Mr. Coppinger is clearly unwilling to make. I am ready to make the choice for providing funding that builds a solid platform for our children’s futures by fixing Hamilton County public schools. As Mayor, I will see to it that the value we place on public education is a direct reflection of the concern that we have for this community’s economic future.

“The truth is that families want to raise their children in safe neighborhoods with access to great schools that are just down the block from where they live. We all deserve access. We all deserve knowledge, and opportunity. Every child deserves a rigorous education that expands their horizons and prepares them for the demands of a dynamic economy. Every teacher deserves the resources and tools they need in order to deliver a world-class, 21st century curriculum. Access to these things shouldn’t depend on where you live in Hamilton County.

“Jim Coppinger: Where are you?

“I’m calling on everyone in Hamilton County to shift their thinking from short-sighted policy fixes to long-term strategic solutions. As your next Mayor, I pledge to lead the way.”

Old Photos: Fort Oglethorpe

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