Stokes the obvious choice for DeKalb Commission

When we learned that 11 people were running to replace late DeKalb Commissioner Lou Walker, we knew we weren’t going to get to know all of them before the Sept. 21 special election.

But we do know this: One of the leading candidates for the seat, which represents the "super-district" comprising southeast DeKalb, has spent six months behind bars for extortion and tax evasion, while another spent the past 10 years as a talented and accomplished state senator.

John Evans, 71, was on the commission in 1989 when he was accused (and later convicted) of accepting $8,000 from an undercover FBI agent posing as a developer. Since then, Evans has gained community plaudits as head of the DeKalb NAACP, and many older voters long ago forgave his indiscretion. Still, why would anyone return a crook, even a reformed crook, to public office when there are other options?

Another candidate folks are talking about is Adrion Bell, 41, but mostly because he's the son of former Atlanta Police Chief Edrin Bell (and half-brother of "American Idol" runner-up Justin Guarini). Bell, publisher of the Christian Yellow Pages, lost to Walker in 2000, but otherwise seems to keep a fairly low community profile.

Our pick to represent the district is state Sen. Connie Stokes, who recently made a (very) unsuccessful bid for Denise Majette's congressional seat. A former state Senate floor leader handpicked by then-Gov. Roy Barnes, Stokes has proven herself to be an effective, well-informed legislator. She also has an inspiring backstory, having overcome abandonment by her parents and unwed motherhood at 15 to work her way through college and become a real estate broker.

Most crucially, Stokes is a strong-willed, independent, professionally minded woman who might provide a counterweight to CEO-run-amok Vernon Jones.

The other candidates are perennial candidate Joe Bembry; attorney Tom Bowen; private investigator Faye Coffield; businesswoman Angela Moore; geologist Mikhail Hill; attorney Yvonne Hawks; neighborhood activist Jash Perry; and Billy Wingo Jr. of Lithonia.

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