Candidates for the Dougherty County School Board’s at-large seat Lorenzo Heard and Lane Price answer questions submitted from the audience Thursday night at a public forum held at Albany State University.
*EDITOR'S NOTE: The full video of the Albany State Forum will be available at 9:30 a.m., October 26, 2012 on this page. Mobile users can access the video HERE.
ALBANY, Ga. — Lane Price and Lorenzo Heard squared off in their only debate Thursday night at Albany State University, and both Dougherty County School System School Board at-large candidates seemed to score points with undecided voters.
In opening statements, Heard, the pastor of Greater 2nd Mt. Olive Baptist Church, urged voters to support his write-in candidacy because of his track record of commitment to the community and concern for the education of its children.
Price, the Democratic nominee, as well as the Medical Director at Willson Hospice House, said the DCSS is in bad shape, with nowhere to go but up. She added she wanted to provide the community's children with the same educational opportunities she enjoyed growing up in Sumter County.
Held before a large crowd, the candidates answered questions from the audience which ranged from why each considered themselves to be the most qualified candidate to what their first priority would be if elected.
"We must get our parents involved," Heard said. "Our teachers have to deal with disruptions in the classroom every day. If you have to beg a child to sit down, the teacher is already behind an eight-ball.
"Someone has to corral our parents to be better parents. That's where we start."
Price said her first priority would be getting the DCSS's financial house in order.
"We have to address our current money issues. Look at the state of our schools. Money is being mishandled and federal funds are being frozen," Price stated. "We have to immediately get money to run our school system. The federal government is looking at the DCSS because of mismanaged Title I funds.
"The State Department of Education is making the system hire two people to oversee our free lunch programs and Title I funds. This must be addressed immediately."
Individually, Heard was asked why he did not run in the July primary, but rather delayed qualifying as an independent less than a week after Price defeated incumbent Anita Williams-Brown.
"I felt compelled to run, but I was never obligated to run in the primary," Heard said, his voice rising. "I can't tell you how many times I have been asked that question from both black and white people. Had I run in the primary, black folks would have accused me of splitting the black vote."
Price, who has lived in Dougherty County for four years, was asked how she felt she was part of the community she is trying to represent.
"I spent all summer going door-to-door throughout most of Dougherty County," she said. "It was hot and I was sweaty, but I met a lot of wonderful people, black and white, some of whom are here tonight. Luckily for me the summer days are long in Southwest Georgia.
"Being a physician, when I see an x-ray, I look for trouble inside the body. That x-ray doesn't tell me the race of the person. I look at people as people. I'm not concerned about the race of the person, only healing them."
Earlier, debate moderator Aaron Johnson asked Heard if he had children in the DCSS, and if not, what would ensure his passion for the county's school kids?
"It would be unfair to say how many kids I have in the Dougherty County School system, because to me, they are all my children," Heard answered. "As a pastor, I can't count all the children I have, but I have more than are in this room, more than are at Albany State and more than are in the Dougherty County School System."