By Curt Yeomans
Clayton County Board of Education member Charlton Bivins is headed for an Aug. 10 run-off election with challenger James Searcy for the school board's District 9 seat, according to election results available at 1 a.m., on Wednesday.
With all but the provisional ballots counted, Bivins earned 48.53 percent of the 2,821 ballots cast in the Democratic primary, while Searcy, the chairman of the Housing Authority of Clayton County, earned 38.75 percent. A third candidate, Grandvial H. Quick, garnered just 12.73 percent of the votes. In Georgia, elections go into runoffs if no candidate earns "50 percent, plus one" of the votes cast in an election.
Bivins said he believes he did not get more votes because not enough voters realized he had only been in office since January 2009. "A lot of my constituents don't understand that I am part of a new school board," he said. "They think I'm part of the old school board, and that probably swayed them towards voting for someone new."
While Bivins and Searcy are heading into a runoff, voters casting ballots in the elections for school board Districts 1 and 4 have already decided to keep the board on its current course. In the District 1 race, incumbent school board member Pam Adamson defeated challenger Richard F. Jones, by winning 68.09 percent of the votes.
In the District 4 race, incumbent school board member Michael King -- who has spent much of his first term fighting to stay in office because of an ethics trangression for which he has been censured by his colleagues -- easily defeated R. Jermaine Coleman by earning 58.6 percent of the votes.
There had originally been a third candidate, Xavier Ross, but, on Tuesday evening, Clayton County Board of Elections and Registration Director Annie Bright said county elections officials disqualified Ross, who is 19, last month, because he was too young to run for the office.
In the fourth school board race, for District 8 board member Alieka Anderson ran unopposed. The primary election winners will not face any Republican opposition in November.
Bivins and Searcy said they plan to spend the next three weeks talking to community members, and trying to build public support for their campaigns. "I think it's time for me to truly get out and talk to people about some of the positive things I've done on the board, as well as some of the initiatives I've wanted to kick-off, and how I want to make the ones I've already kicked off even better," Bivins said.
Searcy said he will be going to Boston today for a National Association for Redevelopment Housing Organizations convention, where the Housing Authority of Clayton County is scheduled to receive an award for its Foreclosure Resource Center. Then, he said, he will reach out to other local candidates, in other races in the primary, for their support.
"I'm going to continue garnering support for my candidacy," he said. "I'm going to reach out to the other candidates for other offices, and see if I can get them to endorse me, and support me in this campaign."
Searcy said that the run-off election will come down to voters having to decide whether they want the school board to stay on the path it is on now, or experience change by electing a new board member.
But Adamson, Anderson and King said they believe voters, at least in other districts, have already given their vote of confidence for the school board's work by reelecting Adamson and King. In 2008, the makeup of the school board underwent a total transformation with every member of the old school board either resigning, or being forcibly removed from office, and then replaced with new board members.
"I think the voters understand it is really important the board have some stability for a change," Adamson said. King said that while he would have liked to win reelection with at least 60 percent of voters casting ballots in his favor, he believed the election results represented voters giving the school board an opportunity to continue working to lift the school system out of its probationary accreditation status.