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Political Transparency in East Cobb

JoEllen Smith says the right words when she talks about openness and availability, but which East Cobb representatives have set an example for her to follow?

Hooray for JoEllen Smith. The Marietta Daily Journal on Monday reported that she is getting quite a reaction from East Cobb Republicans. Her incumbent opponent, State Rep. Don Parsons from Northeast Cobb, is ignoring Ms. Smith and won’t join her to discuss the local issues of the day.

While she attended a Monday  with voters in Acworth, Parsons did not.

A few people were quoted as not having seen the representative in a very, very long time.

In the same article, "Smith said State Rep. John Carson (R-East Cobb) had recently 'yelled at and berated her' for trying to alert the community about the status of the newly adopted reapportionment map the legislature approved for the Cobb School District.”

On Red County, a political blog that says it is “The place for state and local conservative politics," it says that JoEllen Smith is the founder of the Cobb Patriots Tea Party and a political activist in East Cobb.

Her website probably says the same stuff as Rep. Parsons' web site, long on generalities and short on specifics, as is prudent early in a political campaign. Besides, Rep. Parsons' well-publicized baggage might be enough to bring him down.

But if Ms. Smith becomes Rep. Smith, she will be without local examples of elected state officials to pattern herself after who are transparent and open to the public, certainly not Parsons or Carson.

Commissioners Bob Ott and JoAnn Birrell do a good job of engaging in conversation with their constituents in town hall meetings. Are there state representatives/senators who could show Rep. Smith how to act like a representative? Rep. Sharon Cooper sometimes will join a Bob Ott town hall meeting for a few minutes, but Rep. Matt Dollar and Sen. Judson Hill are as AWOL as Parsons.

Democratic Rep. Stacey Evans of Smyrna could provide a good role model for Ms. Smith if she becomes Rep. Smith. Rep. Evans has regular town hall meetings by herself and with other Smyrna elected officials.

For example, last Wednesday, she had a town hall meeting at the Cobb Main Library. Rep. Evans answered questions about tax changes, charter school amendments, transportation issues, HOPE, legal reform, and more.

If a state representative is looking to be transparent, available, and open to her constituents of both parties, Rep. Evans would be a good example.

Transparent, available and open representation is common in Smyrna State Sen. Doug Stoner has been doing it for years. Powder Springs had a Don Parsons kind of Democrat in office until David Wilkerson was elected two years ago.

There are a few questions about car taxes and transportation issues that I’m not sure about, so I’ll ask Rep. Wilkerson Thursday night at the monthly at the Delkwood Grill on Delk Road.

If you haven’t had a chance to ask your East Cobb representative a question in a long time, if ever, ask Rep. Wilkerson. He is very smart and works well with his Republican counterparts in the state legislature.

If Ms Smith becomes Rep Smith, she might consider getting rid of that article on Red County about “Whiny Democrats.” She may need a Democratic vote some day to get an East Cobb project approved.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Beth April 24, 2012 at 12:03 PM
Mr. Holznecht, What is your motive in attacking local elected Republicans? As Joellen Smith pointed out in a recent post, you are a House District Chair for the Cobb Democratic Party and a consultant and a contributor to the East Cobb Democratic Alliance. Wouldn't it be more honest and "transparent" to let your readers know this? I'd love to see an article or survey regarding the most honest, objective, and transparent news sources and journalists in Cobb County. Regarding the dispute between Rep. Carson and Mrs. Smith, have you tried to get his side of the story? Publicly berating a woman is completely out of character for him. I've heard from many that John Carson communicates regularly with his constituents, returns emails and phone calls, and seeks feedback from the community. In your own experience, how has Rep. Carson lacked transparency?
Carter K. April 24, 2012 at 12:38 PM
I've had a very positive experience with Carson in the short time he's been in office. Carson responded to my phone calls and emails regarding the Cobb School Board map. He helped to implement many changes to Post 5 from the original map drafted by the West Cobb Delegation. Apparently, the map went through several versions before it was completed. He kept me updated on the changes and compromises made in the legislature and communicated regularly. Carson worked for his constituents to keep Simpson Middle and Lassiter High School in Post 5. Since he was elected in Oct/Nov of 2011, he's hosted a townhall and had a bill passed that saves taxpayers hundreds of thousands. Sounds like a conservative to me.

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