By Curt Yeomans
MARTA bus operator, Wanda Smith, and retired teacher, Ophelia Burroughs, appear headed for landslide elections to the District 2 and District 5 seats on the Clayton County Board of Education.
As of 1:20 a.m., on Wednesday, with 58 of 60 precincts reporting, Smith led Republican challenger, Della Ashley, with 89 percent of the vote, while Burroughs was in front of her Republican opponent, Diana Nicholson, with 80 percent.
Only the advanced, early and provincial ballots remained to be counted. Forty-two percent of registered voters in Clayton County cast ballots during the early and advance voting period.
While months of campaigning are now behind Smith and Burroughs, they have to focus on becoming acclimated to their new roles as school board members-elect. They will take office on Jan. 1.
"I'm glad it's [the campaign] over, but the work is just beginning," said Burroughs. "I'm going to try to meet all of the expectations of my constituents. I want to be a good representative for the community."
Smith could not be reached for comment after ballots were cast Tuesday.
Meanwhile, in the special elections for Districts 1 and 9, runoffs appear likely on Dec. 2, as voters continue to overhaul a nine-member board which played a large part in the school district losing its accreditation in September.
All of the members of the old school board, which was labeled "dysfunctional" by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), have left office either by choice, or by force.
Only Districts 1 and 9 remain question marks. The winners of the runoffs in these special elections will take office immediately.
The runoffs and special elections come from a large pool of officeseekers.
Pamela Adamson, a retired educator who has worked on SACS review teams in the past, led the crowded field of 10 candidates in District 1 with 27 percent. Pending the results of the early and advanced voting, she will face either attorney, Dominick Crea (14.38 percent), or Fulton County Schools teacher, Cleopatra Ballantyne (13.06 percent).
Adamson could not be reached for comment.
In District 9, community activist, Lt. Charlton Bivins, of the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department, led the field with 38 percent of the vote. He will face either Irene Lewis, a training manager for AT&T, or Realtor, James Searcy. Lewis had 22 percent of the vote, compared to 18 percent for Searcy.
"I am overjoyed the community has had this type of faith in me," said Bivins. "I hope my involvement and my passion will help me overcome my challenger."