A crucial school board election in DeKalb County has drawn 22 candidates. Missing from the list of candidates who emerged Friday after the week-long qualifying period were two people Deal appointed to rescue the district.
John Coleman of north DeKalb had previously announced he would not run, leaving an open seat. Only Stan Jester, of Dunwoody, signed up to succeed him, so all that stands between Jester and a board member nameplate is the formality of the May 20 election. Jester is married to the prior occupant of that seat — Nancy Jester, who is now running for state superintendent. This was a referendum on Nancy Jester’s service as a board member. The people have spoken and they want a Jester in that seat.
The other incumbent bowing out is David Campbell of south DeKalb. Five are vying for his seat, including one incumbent. Thad Mayfield was appointed by Deal to an at-large seat that was eliminated last week by the Georgia General Assembly, and lives in Campbell’s district. One of Mayfield’s challengers is Jesse “Jay” Cunningham, the only board member removed by Deal who is seeking a return to the office.
All seven seats are open because of the recent changes wrought by Georgia lawmakers. Last week, after several tries over the past few years, they shrank the board from nine positions by cutting the two at-large seats. That means northeast DeKalb incumbent Jim McMahan must defend his seat against incumbent Karen Carter, an at-large member who lives in his district. McMahan is one of only three incumbents elected by voters. The two other elected incumbents also have challengers: Marshall Orson will face Don McChesney, who previously held that seat in central DeKalb but lost it to Orson two years ago. And board Chairman Melvin Johnson will defend his southeast DeKalb seat against newcomer Bridgeman Bolger.
Whoever wins the seats held by Johnson, McMahan and Orson will hold office two years; the rest of the seats are for four-year terms.