Newcomers win three-quarters of school board seats in Georgia runoff elections
By Abbey Smith
The Georgia runoff elections saw a number of fresh faces elected to school boards across the state on July 22, 2014. Only four incumbents kept their seats, leaving nine out of the 13 seats up for election won by new candidates. The 13 seats that held runoff elections were part of nine districts across the state: Barrow, Colquitt, DeKalb, Dougherty, Fayette, Hall, Houston, Muscogee and Savannah-Chatham.
Out of the nine incumbents who were up for election in the runoff, only Patricia H. Anderson from Colquitt County Schools, Michael A. Erwin and Jim McMahan from DeKalb County School District and Brian G. Sloan from Hall County Schools were re-elected. Incumbent Karen Carter from DeKalb County School District lost to McMahon after the school board shrunk in size from nine seats to seven, pitting the two incumbents against each other. Thad Mayfield, another incumbent from DeKalb County School District, lost the District 5 seat to Vickie B. Turner. Incumbent John Wells lost the Muscogee District 2 seat to challenger John F. Thomas, and Republican incumbents Randall Holland and Will Dunn from the Barrow County School System lost to challengers Debi Krause and Michael Shelley, respectively, in the Republican primary runoff. Krause will face the Democratic candidate Betty Kinney in November, but Shelley remains unopposed for the general election.
No incumbents ran in the runoff elections for seats on the Dougherty Board of Education, Fayette County Board of Education, Houston County Board of Education or Savannah-Chatham County Board of Education, leaving five seats open to newcomers. Dean Phinazee won the Dougherty District 6 seat, Diane Basham won the Fayette District 4 seat, Hoke Morrow won the Houston Post 6 seat, Bryan Upshaw won the Houston Post 7 seat and Jolene Byrne won the Savannah-Chatham seat for board president.
Between the primary and runoff elections, two districts saw a change in challengers. After receiving 21.5 percent of the vote in the primary election for board president on the Savannah-Chatham County Public School System Board of Education, David Simons was supposed to advance to the runoff election with Jolene Byrne. Instead, Simons withdrew from the race on May 22, 2014, leaving Chester A. Ellis, the third-place finisher in the primary, to face Byrne in the runoff. John Kimbell, candidate for the District 4 seat on the Fayette County Board of Education, also withdrew from the runoff election after discovering he did not have the necessary voter qualifications. This left Jane L. Owens, third in the primary, to face Diane Basham. In both of these cases, the third-place finishers who got bumped up to the runoff election were defeated.
Note: An (i) next to a candidate's name indicates incumbent status.
- School board elections, 2014
- Georgia school board elections, 2014
- Georgia elections, 2014
- Nine incumbents unseated, seven districts to hold runoffs in Georgia and New York elections