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North and South Dekalb: Bridging the Divide

I moved to Dekalb County in 1993, looking for a fresh start in a place as close to Atlanta as I could afford. In a little over a year, the ambitious, young person I was, purchased the cutest little townhome in Stone Mountain from a white woman who was extremely eager to sell. The townhome was beautiful, immaculately maintained and relatively inexpensive. It had the greatest, little backyard. It was perfect. I moved in to what I thought would be my home until I was married… Shortly afterwards, I realized why the seller was so eager to sell. She was probably the last white person to leave the neighborhood, which became all Black.

After about 8 years and now a mother of two sons, I had no choice but to leave my beloved, little townhome. A townhome that I could comfortably afford to raise my children. A townhome in a neighborhood that unfortunately, did not offer an equal and fair opportunity for public education for my children or the children in the neighborhood. I hated that I had to leave….

I moved from Stone Mountain to Tucker, from one side of Hwy 78 to the other side, a stone’s throw away, to live in an apartment. I did not know, at that time, why the public schools on one side of the highway were different from the public schools on the other side of the highway. What I realized later, was that the highway, was the “invisible and visible economic, educational and racial dividing line" between North and South Dekalb.

My children attended public school in North Dekalb and the experience was everything that I hoped for and more. My children had great teachers and made great friends. The parents were great and I loved all the kids. I volunteered and I always felt like part of the Tucker/Northlake community. Our children are still friends today….

Fast forward to the Tucker/Northlake cityhood initiative and the divisiveness of Senator Fran Millar. Fran was determined to incorporate the remainder of Senate District 40, as he already incorporated the northern part of the district. Fran had no regard for the impact on the community or on the county as a whole. In his selfish desire to leave a legacy and build a kingdom in North Dekalb, Fran furthered the divide. The rift that Fran caused in the Tucker/Northlake community and the impact on the infrastructure in North Dekalb is still a problem today. Tensions are still high between residents and neighbors over being in the city of Tucker versus the proposed city of LaVista Hills. The sewer capacity in North Dekalb has reached its limit and Dekalb County has spilled millions of gallons of waste water threatening streams, rivers and homes. North Dekalb is overbuilt and cannot handle any more development without addressing capacity and its infrastructure. Yet, North Dekalb continues to build. I absolutely believe in economic development, but not at the expense of people, communities or the environment.

There is a real divide between North and South Dekalb that affects the quality of life in all of Dekalb. Every citizen in Dekalb County pays for it, whether they like it or not. Dekalb needs leadership in the State Senate that will address what is good for all of Dekalb, North and South, collectively. Dekalb needs a State Senator who can “bridge the divide” and help create a progressive economy that works for all its citizens. Dekalb needs a State Senator who will help create an educational structure that is equal and fair for all children. Dekalb need a State Senator who will work to bridge the racial divide with love and support for all communities. I am Tamara Johnson-Shealey. I am that leader and I am Dekalb County’s Candidate for the Georgia State Senate, District 40....

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