DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. - A 19-year-old woman with an aspiring political career achieved her first political victory: the DeKalb Board of Elections allowed her name to be on the ballot for the new City of Stonecrest's election for City Council.
Opposing candidate George Turner challenged Mary Pat Hector's candidacy, after questions arose as to whether Hector’s campaign broke Georgia law: candidates must be 21 or older, unless a city ordinance states otherwise.
“If we ignore this law, what will we ignore next?” Turner asked the board.
The Spelman College student argued the Stonecrest city charter allowed her to run for office.
“I believe I had should have the opportunity and at least the right to run... You had to follow by those qualifications, which I did. And I became qualified,” Hector told the board.
The board sided with Hector, stating that the new city's charter only required candidates to be of “voting age.”
“I’m glad the question was answered,” Turner said, after the decision.
“Once you fight for something that you truly believe in, you truly can prevail,” said Turner, who plans to start campaigning Friday for the election.
The teen already has a head start in the political arena. She said she has worked with the Obama Administration to advocate for criminal justice reform, and worked with the organization Cities United to focus on safety issues in minority communities.
“A lot of people associate age with experience. I don’t think that's something that you should do, because that tells young people they can’t, despite the work they’ve been doing in the community,” Hector said.
Election Day for Stonecrest is March 21.
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