By Curt Yeomans
The voters of Clayton County decided on Tuesday to keep several school board races going as 10 Clayton County Board of Education candidates will continue fighting for their seats until at least the Aug. 5 run-off election.
Alieka Anderson won the District 8 special election with 56 percent of the vote, while Trinia Garrett took the District 7 seat with 56 percent. Lois Baines-Hunter, the only member of the embattled school board who sought re-election, finished last in the District 2 race with 21 percent of the vote.
There will be run-off elections for the board's District 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 seats, although the results are not official until they are certified by the Clayton County Board of Elections.
"The voters have made a pretty powerful message, which is 'We want our school board cleaned up,'" said John Askew, who will face Mary Baker in a run-off election for the board's District 6 seat.
Anderson will take her seat on the board as soon as the Board of Elections certifies her victory, because District 8 was a special election. She replaces Norreese Haynes, who was removed from the board in March by his colleagues. Haynes' attempts to stop the special election proved unsuccessful in the courts.
"The people have spoken, and they want transparency on the board, and they want people who will listen to the community," said Anderson Wednesday morning.
Garrett could not be reached on Wednesday for comment.
Wanda Smith led the Democratic field in the District 2 race with 34 percent of the vote, followed by Lindsey McDaniel (22.41 percent); Andre Glover (21.86 percent), and Baines-Hunter (21.42 percent). Smith and McDaniel could not be reached Wednesday morning for comment. The winner of the runoff will face Republican challenger Della Ashley in the November general election.
The results of the District 3 race went down to the wire as recent school system retiree Jessie Goree narrowly led with 28.86 percent; followed by Charles Davis (28.20 percent); Tammie Hardy (25 percent); Blondie Perry-Christian (11 percent), and Marty Holder, Sr. (7 percent).
"I did expect there would be a runoff because of the number of candidates... I hope the voters will look at our qualifications and involvement and pick the person that best represent the constituents of District 3," Goree said.
"I'm ready for it to be over with," Davis said. "These Board of Education races have been very grinding because of all the things going on with the accreditation, the superintendent and the diplomas."
Attorney Michael King led the District 4 special election race at times with enough votes to take the seat outright, but a late surge of votes brought him down enough to face teacher Milton Mack in a runoff. King led the field with 48 percent, while Mack had 30 percent, and Deverick Williams earned 21 percent. The winner of the seat will take office immediately.
Retired Jonesboro High School teacher Ophelia Burroughs will face Jennifer Talley in the District 5 run-off election. Burroughs led the field with 34 percent, while Talley had 26 percent. Phyllis Moore had 16 percent, followed by Robert Green (12 percent); Trena Morris (6 percent), and Basil Lue (5 percent). The winner of the runoff will face Republican challenger Diana Nicholson in the November general election.
District 6 turned out to be the race with the highest voter turnout. There were 4,175 votes cast in that race. Mary Baker led the District 6 field with 39 percent of the votes, followed by Askew (21 percent); Vernetta Reeves (12 percent); Glenn Dowell (8 percent); William Hill (8 percent); James Stanley (6 percent), and Mabel Swaby (5 percent).
"I'm happy -- and surprised -- that I made it into a runoff with as many people as we had in this race," Baker said. "I hoped I would make it into a runoff, but I did not expect those kinds of numbers."