SOUTH COBB - When Democratic Party activist David Wilkerson of south Cobb filed paperwork in July to run against longtime Democratic state Rep. Don Wix of House District 33 in the upcoming party primary, it was a bit unusual considering he'd finished his term as chairman of the Cobb Democratic Party only a few months ago.
The reason Wilkerson, 40, said he decided to enter the political arena was because he feels like the district is in need of better representation. For Wix, who was elected in 1998 and challenged in last year's primary, it was a reminder of how much the district is changing.
Wilkerson's announcement prompted the new party chairman, Will Fowlkes, to send out an e-mail a few days ago to party members reminding them that the "county party - and its officers - do not endorse any Democratic candidate in a contested race until after the Democratic primary is held and the results certified."
"It's unusual for a former chairman, yes, to run against a sitting Democratic legislator," Wilkerson admitted. "But, it just goes to show that obviously some deep thought must have gone into it."
The son of an Army sergeant, Wilkerson is married and has two children. He has long been involved in county politics since he moved to Cobb after he graduated from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University in 1991, and became an accountant. He quickly moved up the county party's ranks to become treasurer and first vice-chairman, before he became its first black chairman from 2006-08.
Since his term ended, Wilkerson said he has traveled across the district and spoken with many residents. Their concerns about more outspoken leadership is what led him to run for office, he said.
"People want to see their legislator and want to know who that person is," said Wilkerson. "They want to have a voice in the decisions and they can only have that voice if they know who to share that voice with. In that instance, I would say there can definitely be some improvement."
Wix, 63, is married and the grandfather of three children. He is a lifelong south Cobb resident who graduated from South Cobb High School, the University of Georgia and served in Vietnam. He is the owner of Don Wix Realty, a commercial real estate company. He said the district is well represented in the Georgia General Assembly.
"South Cobb has - and as long as I'm serving it will always have - a voice that is heard loud and clear. As the treasurer and finance chair of the House Democratic Caucus, I am in a position of leadership in the House of Representatives," said Wix.
House District 33 is located in the southwest corner of the county. Macland and Hurt roads make up the northern and eastern borders of the district respectively. The city of Austell lays to the south.
It includes Mableton and the city of Powder Springs, which makes up one-quarter of the district. More than 45,000 county residents reside there, or 7.4 percent of Cobb residents, according to the Carl Vinson Institute of Government. Besides leaning toward Democrats, it's a growing middle-class community and is becoming more racially diverse. In 2004, blacks made up 34.6 percent of the population. Four years later, blacks accounted for 41.1 percent.
"It's probably the most racially balanced district in the county," said Wilkerson.
Powder Springs Mayor Pat Vaughn - a registered Republican, though her office is nonpartisan - said she has had a good working relationship with Wix over the years and that he has worked hard for her city.