Chester A. Ellis

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Chester A. Ellis
Chester A. Ellis.jpg
Former candidate for
Board member, Savannah-Chatham County Board of Education, President
Elections and appointments
Last electionJuly 22, 2014
Term limitsN/A
Education
Bachelor'sSavannah State College
Master'sCambridge College
Personal
ProfessionPastor
Websites
Campaign website
Chester A. Ellis was a candidate for the board presidency of the Savannah-Chatham County Board of Education in Georgia. He lost election against four other candidates in the general election on May 20, 2014. Fellow newcomers Jolene Byrne and David Simons were heading to a runoff election on July 22, 2014 but Simons announced his withdrawal from the race on May 22, 2014. Ellis replaced Simons on the ballot but lost to Byrne in the runoff election.[1]

Biography

Ellis holds a B.S. from Savannah State College and a master's degree in education and leadership from Cambridge College. He worked as a teacher and coach at district schools for 33 years prior to retirement. Ellis currently serves as the pastor of Saint Paul Missionary Baptist Church. He is also the president of the Carver Village Neighborhood Association.[2]

Elections

2014

See also: Savannah-Chatham County Public School System elections (2014)

Opposition

Chester A. Ellis ran against Sadie C. Brown, Jolene Byrne, George Seaborough and David Simons in the general election on May 20, 2014. He lost a runoff election against Byrne on July 22, 2014. Board president Joe Buck could not run for another term because of the seat's two-term limit.

Results

Runoff election
Savannah-Chatham County Public School System, Board President Runoff Election, 4-year term, 2014
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngJolene Byrne 73.1% 17,617
     Nonpartisan Chester A. Ellis 26.9% 6,496
Total Votes 24,113
Source: Georgia Secretary of State, "UNOFFICIAL COUNTY RESULTS," July 22, 2014
General election
Savannah-Chatham County Public School System, Board President General Election, 4-year term, 2014
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngJolene Byrne 40.1% 11,003
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngDavid Simons 21.5% 5,900
     Nonpartisan Chester A. Ellis 17.2% 4,736
     Nonpartisan Sadie C. Brown 10.7% 2,941
     Nonpartisan George Seaborough 10.5% 2,889
Total Votes 27,469
Source: Georgia Secretary of State, "OFFICIAL COUNTY RESULTS," May 20, 2014

Funding

Ellis reported $3,245.00 in contributions and $711.00 in expenditures to the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission, leaving his campaign with $2,534.00 on hand prior to the election.[3]

Endorsements

Ellis earned the endorsement of The Savannah Tribune ahead of the May 20, 2014 election.[4]

Campaign themes

2014

Ellis explained his themes for the 2014 campaign on his campaign website:

1. Increase accessibility of district representatives to the citizens of Chatham County.

2. Increase community involvement in planning and decision making.

3. Ensure that all students receive fair and equal treatment under the policy.

4. Increase sensitivity to the needs of students, parents, teachers and other system employees.

5. Help obtain additional school resources through partnerships and grants.

6. Work to increase fiscal responsibility.

7. Develop strategies to increase the graduation rate.

[5]

—Chester A. Ellis's campaign website, (2014), [6]

What was at stake?

Issues in the election

Negative posters target David Simons

Detractors of board presidency candidate David Simons placed posters at the locations of candidate forums to attack the candidate's qualifications for office. A series of posters placed by unnamed opponents featured a police photo of Simons from a 2000 arrest for battery. The posters used phrases like "David Simons: A Role Model for Our Children" and "David Simons: Are Temper Tantrums a Community Value." Simons countered that the posters highlighted his frontrunner status in the race. Fellow candidates Ellis, Jolene Byrne and George Seaborough did not address the posters but criticized Simons for his failure to attend candidate forums in interviews with the Savannah Morning News.[7]

Ethics complaint against David Simons

David Simons faces an ethics complaint and civil lawsuit related to contacts he made with Superintendent Thomas Lockamy on April 16, 2014 and five school board members on April 17, 2014. Simons, the owner of The Simons Political Group, reached out to Lockamy to meet with representatives for Rives Worrell. Rives Worrell is a Simons client and a construction firm that holds a $21 million contract with the district to build a new school. The April 17, 2014 emails to board members requested assistance in resolving a dispute with Michelle Jervey, a contractor engaged in a dispute with Rives Worrell over minority hiring claims. All five board members contacted by Simons are white and no African American board members were contacted regarding Jervey.[8]

Jervey filed a civil suit against Simons on May 14, 2014 and seeks $10,000 in damages on the grounds that the emails could damage her ability to seek future employment. Local realtor Clint Murphy submitted a complaint with the Georgia Ethics Commission claiming that Simons is lobbying public officials without registering with the state. Murphy's complaint notes that Simons has not registered as a lobbyist since 2010 despite work done by his company. Simons has criticized both claims as baseless efforts at weakening his board candidacy.[8]

April 23 candidate forum

Ellis, Sadie C. Brown, Jolene Byrne and George Seaborough participated in a candidate forum on April 23, 2014 sponsored by the Downtown Neighborhood Association. The candidates shared their views on how to close the gap between high-performing schools and struggling schools in the district. Jolene Byrne and George Seaborough agreed that the district needs to encourage communication among principals to reproduce successful programs across the district. Byrne and Seaborough both advocated for expanded pursuit of education grants and argued against raising property taxes. Ellis and Sadie C. Brown countered that they would reserve judgement on property tax changes until the Georgia State Legislature addresses aid formulas. Brown advocated for consistent implementation of district policies while Ellis noted that successful students have parents who are engaged through high school.[9]

Issues in the district

Bus driver protests

Bus drivers working for Savannah-Chatham County Public School System protested in early May 2014 for annual contracts and benefits. The protesters demonstrated at a school board meeting in the first week of May 2014 and the First Student bus operations office on May 14, 2014. First Student is a private bus company that has a contract with the district. Requests for year-round contracts and benefits stem from House Bill 714, a bill passed in April 2014 by the state legislature that prohibits school district contractors from seeking unemployment benefits during school breaks. Bus drivers were employed directly by the district prior to the 2012-2013 school year and received wages during school breaks. House Bill 714 was sponsored by State Representative Mark Hamilton in order to save school districts throughout the state up to $10 million per year. The Teamsters Local 728 organized the May 2014 protests to highlight the financial impacts of the state law on 60,000 contract workers. First Student has indicated that driver wages during school breaks will be mentioned during future negotiations with the district.[10]

About the district

See also: Savannah-Chatham County Public School System, Georgia
Savannah-Chatham County Public School System is located in Chatham County, Georgia
Savannah-Chatham County Public School System is located in Chatham County, Georgia. The county seat of Chatham County is Savannah, Georgia. Chatham County is home to 278,434 residents, according to the United States Census Bureau.[11] Savannah-Chatham County Public School System is the 10th-largest school district in Georgia, serving 35,842 students during the 2011-2012 school year.[12]

Demographics

Chatham County outperformed the rest of Georgia in terms of higher education achievement in 2012. The United States Census Bureau found that 30.3 percent of Chatham County residents aged 25 years and older had attained a bachelor's degree compared to 27.8 percent for Georgia as a whole. The median household income in Chatham County was $45,653 compared to $49,604 for the state of Georgia. The poverty rate in Chatham County was 18.9 percent compared to 17.4 percent for the entire state.[11]

Racial Demographics, 2012[11]
Race Chatham County (%) Georgia (%)
White 54.7 62.8
Black or African American 40.2 31.2
American Indian and Alaska Native 0.3 0.5
Asian 2.6 3.5
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander 0.1 0.1
Two or More Races 2.0 1.8
Hispanic or Latino 5.9 9.2

Note: The United States Census Bureau considers "Hispanic or Latino" to be a place of origin, not a race. Therefore, the Census allows citizens to report both their race and that they are from a "Hispanic or Latino" place of origin simultaneously. As a result, the percentages in each column of the racial demographics table will exceed 100 percent. Each column will add up to 100 percent after removing the "Hispanic or Latino" place of origin percentages, although rounding by the Census Bureau may make the total one or two tenths off from being exactly 100 percent.[13]

Recent news

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See also

External links

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References