By Curt Yeomans
Alieka Anderson and Trinia Garrett will take their seats as members of the Clayton County Board of Education on Saturday morning, pending the Clayton County Board of Elections' certification of their elections on Tuesday.
Anderson, an educator, defeated challenger Ed Rigdon on Tuesday with 56 percent of the vote in the District 8 special election. Garrett defeated Denese Sampson with 56 percent in the District 7 primary election, but, technically, she cannot begin that four-year term until January.
In order for Garrett to take office immediately, the board will have to appoint her to serve the remaining five and a half months of former District 7 representative David Ashe's term. The body is expected to do just that at its Saturday session.
"It's time to get down to business," Anderson said. "I'm a public servant now, and I'm just eager to get to work ... I want to get with ...[Superintendent John Thompson] and let him know if there is anything I can do to help the district save its accreditation, then I'm ready to do it."
Officials with the county's Board of Elections were not sure on Thursday when the election results would be certified. The school system is moving forward with plans to add two new board members this weekend, anyway, just in case the results are certified today.
Board Chairperson Michelle Strong said Anderson will be sworn in before the board meets at 9 a.m., at the Clayton County Performing Arts Center, 2530 Mount Zion Parkway, Jonesboro. She will then participate in the board's vote on a 19.836 millage rate proposal during the meeting. Anderson said she will spend today becoming more informed on the issue.
Strong said the board plans to appoint Garrett to complete Ashe's term Saturday, and swear her in, as he urged when he announced his resignation on June 30.
While anxious to get started, Garrett said she has campaign-fatigue. She and her family spent last weekend standing in front of her Lake City home holding campaign signs as the primary approached. "It was stressful," she said.
"My campaign had no money, so we had to do things the old fashioned way ... I looked at the TV, watching the results, and just started crying. I couldn't believe it," said Garrett, a cosmetologist, and founder of Putting the Past Behind Us Wish Foundation.
Garrett said she is looking forward to a new board member training session offered by the Georgia School Boards Association for the two winners. The training also is open to all 10 candidates in the Aug. 5 school board runoffs.
The runoffs will feature Michael King and Milton Mack in the District 4 special election contest. The winner will be sworn in after the results are declared official. The winner will complete the remaining two and a half years of Ericka Davis' term. She resigned in April while serving the board as chairperson.
Mary Baker and John Askew also are in a runoff, but they may find themselves facing each other twice for the same District 6 seat in a special election, and the winner of the primary will face independent Marcela Bodkin come November.
Eddie White resigned his District 6 seat in April. He had eight months remaining on his term. A special election has been set for Sept. 16, to fill the last three months of White's term. Qualifying for the seat will be held at the Board of Elections office, 121 South McDonough St., Jonesboro, beginning on July 28, at 9 a.m., and ending on July 30, at noon. The qualifying fee is $360.
Once the White special election is decided, the board will be at its full complement of nine members for the first time since March.
However, the primary election winner must face Bodkin in November before voters will decide who will occupy the seat for the next four years.
Other items on the agenda for Saturday's meeting include, repealing policies dealing with board member conflicts of interest, and a Memorandum of Educator Rights. Board members also will hear information about revising policies dealing with purchasing, and the Teacher's Bill of Rights, which was adopted around the same time as the Memorandum of Educator Rights. Tensions arose last year as the Clayton County Education Association pushed to get the Memorandum of Educator Rights approved, while former board member Norreese Haynes, who is also the executive director of the Metro Association of Classroom Educators, pushed his colleagues to approve the similar Teacher's Bill of Rights.