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White, experience trump Dixon, youth

By Greg Gelpi

Experience defeated youth, as Eddie White, 68, a veteran in education, beat Joel Dixon, 26.

White, who has 43 years of experience in the Clayton County school system, commanded almost 67 percent of the vote, while Dixon, assistant marketing manager for Dixie Homecrafters/Gutter guard Inc., managed about 33 percent in the District 6 race for the Clayton County Board of Education, according to unofficial results.

"Eddie White is a good man who has my vote," Clay Collier, a voter at Mt. Zion High School, said, and he wasn't alone as White brought in 5,840 votes.

White, the Democratic candidate, said he was pleased watching as the first results came in, and grew more pleased as results continued to show him in the lead.

"I've gone from teacher through the ranks," White said. "This win (Tuesday night) is the highlight of my career. I'm anxiously looking to serve. This was greater than the 6th District. It's a win for all the school children."

A political newcomer, Dixon, the Republican candidate, collected 2,279 votes.

Lelia Johnson, a mother of four kids currently in Clayton County schools, voted for people "who are interested in students, not in building their own career."

"Joel Dixon, who graduated from Mt. Zion (High School), knows exactly what we need because he is not far removed," Johnson said.

Dixon said he has "always had the utmost respect" for White and plans to work with and support him in office.

He didn't rule out running for office again, saying that he continues to look to fill the needs of Clayton County.

White said his top priority now is establishing a "uniform plan for school improvement with emphasis on improving test scores at every level."

To accomplish that, he intends to work collaboratively with Superintendent Barbara Pulliam, board members, the community, parents and businesses.

White also supports hiring a "test czar" whose only responsibility would be raising test scores.

He also wants to "revamp" the system's curriculum to provide more challenging coursework in math and language arts, hire and retain highly qualified teachers and remove the system from warning status. The school system remains on warned status, surviving a yearlong probation by its accrediting agency, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

White will replace Bob Livingston, who chose not to seek re-election after a rocky year for the board.

Some of the frustrations of the controversial period on the board which put HOPE Scholarships at risk for county students are still being felt by county residents.

"I'd like to vote them all out of the board of education," Elaine Saperstein said.

Janet Britt is relieved that her children are out of the Clayton County school system.

"(Board members) need all the help they can get, and they didn't give us any on this ballot," Britt said.

White defeated Janice Scott in the July 20 Democratic Primary. White received 2,038 votes, while Scott had 1,771 votes. Dixon had no opposition in the Republican Primary.

With the election, five of the nine school board members will be new in January. All three incumbents seeking re-election were defeated.

With no opponents in the general election, Lois Baines Hunter, Yolanda Everett, Wendell "Rod" Johnson and David Ashe also won seats on the school board.

News Daily intern Laura McMillan contributed to this story.