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Two Democrats set to run for Rockdale BOC, Post 2 seat


Pictured L-R: Josie Dean, JaNice Van Ness and Doreen Williams 

Two well-known faces in Rockdale County have thrown their hats in the ring for the Democratic nomination for the Post 2 seat on the Board of Commissioners.

Both, Doreen Williams, 62, and Josie Dean, 53, have announced plans to run for the seat.  

“I think I can bring a new perspective to the seat because I have strengths in critical analysis and budget negotiations. I will look at all possibilities in trying to solve a problem,” said Williams, a 20-year Rockdale County resident and retired educator with a Ph.D. “In me, voters will have a elected official who is available and accessible.”

Dean says she decided to enter the race after contemplating the successful races of others she has assisted in the past.

“At the Conyers State of the City address, DeKalb County Sheriff Thomas Brown approached me about helping with his campaign for Congress, because in his words, I kept everybody straight when I lived in DeKalb,” said Dean, who has been living in Rockdale for about 10 years and is a children’s daycare operator. “That got me thinking: From John Evans, who served on the Board of Commissioners, to slain Sheriff-Elect Derwin Brown in DeKalb, to Rockdale’s CEO Richard Oden and Rockdale Commissioner Oz Nesbitt, I have helped lead to victories. I was thinking, why don’t I start a campaign for myself and see if we can bring some great changes to Rockdale.”

Commissioner JaNice Van Ness, a Republican and fourth generation Rockdale resident, now holds the Post 2 seat. She has announced her plans to seek a third election. Van Ness was first elected in 2006 and won re-election in 2010. She is currently the only woman on the three-person Commission.

“I am excited that I have decided to serve again because I have had an overwhelming response of support in the community to run for re-election. Whether I’m at the farmer’s market or at an annual county event, people are always asking me: ‘You are running again right?” Van Ness said. “I will be putting together a re-election committee in the coming weeks and getting out into the community and listening to voters’ concerns.”

Van Ness, 45, said if re-elected, one of her goals would be to help create a better tax digest in Rockdale.    

“I have worked with budgets, worked with managing people, and I have experience in the human resources realm,” said Van Ness, founder of Peachtree Academy, a private school with campuses in Rockdale and Newton counties. “To me, those are things that not everybody brings to the table.”

Van Ness is also a member of the board of directors of Phoenix Pass, Rockdale Republican Party and the Women’s Service Association civic group.

 Dean, who regularly attends the Board of Commissioner meetings as a private citizen and usually comments during public comment periods, said she has received positive feedback about her decision to run.

“If I win, I want to be known as the people’s commissioner,” Dean said. “My main platform issues include advocating for a five-member Board of Commissioners, instead of the current three member structure, to provide a better balance of the issues, airing school board meetings on Channel 23, and making sure the City of Conyers and Rockdale County have a better working relationship.”

Dean says she also wants to increase the morale of county staff and increase attendance of residents at board meetings.

Dean is no stranger to political activism and being active in the community. She founded the Rockdale County Think Thank civic group and is on the SPLOST Citizens Oversight Committee.

Williams brings many years of community experience as well. She serves as the secretary/treasurer of the Board of Directors for View Point Health. Williams also serves as co-chair for the statewide Georgia Federation of Democratic Women's Mental Health Committee and she chairs the Rockdale County Democratic Party. Previously, she served as the Party treasurer from 2006 - 2012.

Williams already knows what she would like to work on, if elected.

“I would like to see increased efforts for economic development including the adoption and implementation of a long-range strategic plan and the effective coordination of educational courses needed for businesses interested in relocating to Rockdale County,” said Williams. She has 30 years of teaching experience. “Another area of interest is budget negotiations, making certain that the needs of each department are carefully considered and a long-range strategic plan created and implemented for each department.”

The qualifying period for the election will be March 3 – 7. Primary elections are set for May 20.

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