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BOE candidates Garrett, Smith headed for runoff

Photo by Jeylin White                               
District 3 BOE candidate Jessie Goree, out campaigning on Election Day. Goree ran unopposed.

Photo by Jeylin White District 3 BOE candidate Jessie Goree, out campaigning on Election Day. Goree ran unopposed.

Incumbents Trinia Garrett and Wanda Smith appeared to be heading for a runoff late Tuesday, after neither got the required majority vote to be re-elected for the Clayton County School Board.

According to state law, a candidate must receive 50 percent plus one to win the election.

Late Tuesday, the Clayton County Clerks website’s unofficial results indicated Garrett led with 46.96 percent of the vote in District 2 and Smith led with 36.38 percent of the vote in District 7.

Opposing Garrett was Judy Johnson with 39.19 percent and Lois Wright with 13.54 percent.

Among Smith’s opponents, Mark Christmas had 28.05 percent of the vote, Jermaine Coleman 22.38 percent, and Melody Totten 12.98 percent.

Garrett will face Johnson in a runoff, while Smith will face Christmas, both on Dec. 4, according to the Secretary of State’s website.

Despite the chilly temperatures and even a little rain, a few school board candidates waved their campaign signs at voters on Election Day in hopes of swaying voters.

However, the last-minute campaigning didn’t seem to help much for District 5 school board candidate Xavier Ross, who lost to incumbent Ophelia Burroughs, with 41.49 percent of the vote. Burroughs won the election with 58.14 percent of the vote.

Ross, 22, has seen his fair share of controversy during his campaign. He was arrested last week for failure to appear on an $80 traffic ticket, and he was listed as a person of interest in the disappearance of funds from the Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School PTA. When Ross was asked if he thought the negative publicity may have affected his candidacy, he said, “No.”

While campaigning early Tuesday morning outside Riverdale Middle School, Burroughs alluded to the News Daily that she was not concerned she would lose the election to Ross.

Another controversial candidate is District 3 Jessie Goree, who ran unopposed. She will return to her seat. Goree is known for her outspoken opposition to board policies and disagreements with former School Superintendent Edmond Heatley and Board Chairman Pam Adamson. Goree recently filed a lawsuit against the superintendent and the board to clear her name after being sanctioned last year.

“I’m looking forward to us working together as a team, selecting a permanent superintendent and having a better school district,” said Goree. “Whoever is on the team, we just need to work as a team and for the children. We also need to be held accountable for whoever our new leader [will be.]”

In District 6, incumbent Vice Chair Mary Baker narrowly defeated Janice Scott with 50.88 percent of the majority vote. Scott received 48.70 percent of the majority vote.

Scott is a 20-year veteran educator. She was also Ross’ seventh-grade Language Arts teacher at North Clayton Middle School. “The people have chosen Baker and I congratulate her,” said Scott. “I’m hopeful things will go well for the school board.”