By Curt Yeomans
The Clayton County Board of Education has almost all of its nine seats filled, but there is one last hurdle to clear -- today's run-off election.
Seven of the people who will serve on the board for at least the next two years have already been chosen, but voters in two school board districts will decide the occupants of the last two seats today.
Retired educator, Pamela Adamson, and Fulton County teacher, Cleopatra Ballantyne, are the candidates in the District 1 runoff. DeKalb County Sheriff's Deputy Charlton Bivins and AT&T training manager, Irene Lewis, are facing off in District 9.
"I'll be glad when the election is over," said Adamson. "It seems like we've been voting for forever this year, beginning with the presidential primary in February, then the elections in July and August and the general election earlier this month. I know this [runoff] will be my fifth time voting this year."
The winner in each race will serve the remaining two years of the unexpired terms of former board Chairperson Michelle Strong and Vice chairperson Sandra Scott, who were removed from office in August by Gov. Sonny Perdue for alleged unethical behavior and violations of the state's Open Meetings Act.
In the final days leading up to the election, candidates made their last efforts to get people to go to the polls and vote for them. This meant distributing final campaign literature, knocking on doors and making phone calls.
Adamson said she contacted people who had previously supported her to make sure she still had their support. She also sent out campaign flyers to as many voters as she could afford to contact.
Ballantyne and Bivins talked to parents in the community, whether it was at the supermarket, or at church, about the runoff and their candidacies for their respective offices.
"Surprisingly, many parents did not know there was a school board runoff, which is troubling," said Ballantyne. "My response to them was, 'You knew there was a general election. It's your responsibility to make sure, as an informed parent, you know what's going on in your district.' That is part of being an informed parent."
Bivins' approach was a move away from going door-to-door, as he did before the Nov. 4 election. Instead, he spent part of "Black Friday" in front of the Wal-Mart in Ellenwood, and the other half of the day at the Wal-Mart in Morrow, trying to get public feedback.
"Basically, people want to know you're honest," said Bivins. "I stayed out of a political stance, not because I was trying to avoid those questions, but rather because no one asked them."
Lewis could not be reached for comment. Several attempts to reach her at her home were met with a recording, which said the line was busy, and the voice-mail in-box could not accept new messages.
Current School board Chairperson Alieka Anderson said the run-off winners will be sworn in on Jan. 5, 2009, along with board members-elect Wanda Smith (District 2), and Ophelia Burroughs (District 5), who were elected on Nov. 4. The new board members will be asked to join the school board Dec. 12-13, at its teamwork retreat in Peachtree City.
Where to vote
All 58 voting precincts in Clayton County will be open for the U.S. Senate runoff, but the school board races will only appear on ballots at 16 of those precincts. Eight of those precincts, in the southern part of the county, are in District 1. Another eight, northeastern precincts, are in District 9.
The District 1 precincts are:
· Suder Elementary School, 1400 Lake Jodeco Road, Jonesboro.
· Mundy's Mill Middle School, 1251 Mundy's Mill Road, Jonesboro.
· Lovejoy High School, 1587 McDonough Road, Lovejoy.
· Lovejoy Middle School, 1588 Lovejoy Road, Lovejoy.
· Kemp Elementary School, 10990 Folsom Road, Hampton.
· Hawthorne Elementary School, 825 Tara Road, Hampton.
· River's Edge Elementary School, 205 North Bridge Road, Fayetteville.
· New Hope Methodist Church, 1014 New Hope Road, Hampton.
The District 9 precincts are:
· East Clayton Elementary School, 2750 Ellenwood Road, Ellenwood.
· Mt. Zion Elementary School, 2984 Mt. Zion Road, Jonesboro.
· Morrow City Hall, 1500 Maddox Road, Morrow.
· Mount Zion Baptist Church, 7102 Mount Zion Boulevard, Jonesboro.
· Adamson Middle School, 3187 Rex Road, Rex.
· The Rock Baptist Church, 6188 Highway 42, Rex.
· Roberta T. Smith Elementary School, 6340 Highway 42 South, Rex.
· Clayton County Performing Arts Center, 2530 Mount Zion Parkway, Jonesboro.