Copeland to seek District 63 House post

T.J. Copeland at a news conference last week. Photo/Ben Nelms.

Fayetteville native and Fulton County school teacher T.J. Copeland has thrown his hat in the ring as a Democratic candidate to fill the new District 63 seat in the Georgia House of Representatives. The district includes portions of Fayette, Clayton and south Fulton counties.

A former Fayette resident, Copeland said what he brings to the table and to the voters is someone who has spent time on the ground in the communities he wants to continue to serve in the House.

“I’ve been involved in these communities and have served as part of a number of organizations. What I bring to the table is someone who had been involved in neighborhoods, in homeowners associations and in civic organizations,” Copeland said. “I believe there are only two or three teachers in the General Assembly. How can you allocate funds for education without that educational viewpoint?”

Copeland counts education, the HOPE Scholarship and the economy as being central to his platform.

“Georgia is currently among the bottom of the list when it comes to education,” Copeland said. “This is unacceptable and bad for the state of Georgia as a whole. I have innovative ideas for how we as a state can better our current education system and be listed among the top of the national education rankings.”

Those ideas include creating a vocational education system to help supply a workforce needed to fill jobs that, increasingly, do not require a college degree, Copeland said.

On the economy, Copeland said, “Georgia has suffered economically from businesses leaving the state. This has been caused by our current education system as well as our state’s ability to recruit and maintain businesses here in Georgia. I will work relentlessly to recruit corporations and businesses to the state of Georgia.”

Georgia being placed at 49th place in the U.S. in education serves as a hinderance for some companies that might otherwise want to locate in the state, Copeland added.

Again tying eduction to the economy, Copeland said the HOPE Scholarship needs to be brought back to its original form.

“It is time that we restore the Hope Scholarship. Throughout the years the Hope Scholarship has been reduced time and time again. It is time that we look for new ideas of how to restore the Hope Scholarship back to its original form and began providing College students with the support needed to matriculate through college,” said Copeland.

A result of legislative reapportionment after the 2010 Census, the newly created District 63 spans much of northeast and east central Fayette County and includes portions of Fayetteville and areas immediately to the west of the city. The district also includes south Clayton County and portions of College Park and the unincorporated areas south of the city in south Fulton County.

Now a resident of the Old National Highway area, Copeland grew up in Fayetteville and attended East Fayette Elementary School, Fayette Middle School and Fayette County High School. He later graduated from Jacksonville State University. These days Copeland teaches Special Education at Banneker High School in south Fulton County, coaches wrestling and oversees the school’s 21st Century Leaders program.

Copeland has been involved with a number of neighborhood, homeowners and civic organizations and has served on the Finance and Strategic committees of the Georgia Democratic Party, as Political Director of the Young Democrats of Atlanta, and Vice-Chair of the South Fulton Democrats. Copeland also chairs “Democrats Work,” serving the local area through community service projects.