Atlanta Board of Education Incumbents and Newcomers Vying For 9 Seats

Jordan Wilson

This upcoming November 2nd, nine seats are available for the general election on the Atlanta Board of Education. The board is an independent system neither affiliated to the City of Atlanta’s Mayor or the City Council but holds the responsibility for creating approved policies that govern the Atlanta Public School districts. It consists of nine members, six of who will be elected by the district, and three “at-large” members who will be elected to represent the entire city. The policy requires that one person is elected per district to serve for a four-year term.

For the 2021 School Board Districts Candidacy, District 1 incumbent Leslie Grant, has announced that she is not seeking re-election. Qualifying candidates for District 1 are Katie Howard and Wykeisha Howe. District 2 incumbent Aretta Baldon will run against Keisha Carey and Bethsheba Rem. District 3 incumbent Michelle Olympiadis, will run against Malik Ray. District 4 incumbent Jennifer McDonald has announced that she is not seeking reelection, there is no declaration of intent to run for this position. District 5 incumbent Erika Y. Mitchell will run against Raynard Johnson. And last, there is no declaration of intent to run against District 6 incumbent Eshe Collins.

For the 2021 School Board “At-Large” Candidacy, Seat 7 incumbent Kandis Wood Jackson has announced that she is not seeking reelection, a declaration of intent for this position has been made by Tamara Jones, Royce Mann, Stephen Spring, and KaCey Venning. For Seat 8, incumbent Cynthia Briscoe Brown will run against Keedar Whittle. And last, Seat 9 incumbent Jason Esteves will run against Jason Allen and D’Jaris James.

The Atlanta Board of Education will require nominated members to serve on the following committees: accountability, audit, budget, and policy review. This upcoming election is determined to be a battleground race, which emphasizes that this event will be highly competitive for the available positions within the board. Especially given that the incumbents for District 1, 4, and at-large Seat 7 have announced that they will not be seeking reelection. Also, a new bill signed by Governor Brian Kempt in 2020 entails a term limit for each seat. The five board members who represent odd-numbered districts will run for two-year terms, while the four board members who represent even-numbered districts will run for four-year terms. This change will replace the three at-large seats on two-year terms and the districts on four-year terms. Atlanta school officials support the new legislation as it will maintain stability and ensure that half of the board is kept.

Equally, there is a presence of ongoing disputes on policy, given the circumstance of the coronavirus pandemic affecting the students and teachers within the region. To ensure proper decision-making within the Atlanta Board of Education, voters should be aware of selecting the best candidates to represent their district and affect positive change during these trying times.  

Sources:

Johnson, S.M. “Atlanta elections: The rest of the ballot”. The Mainline. 12 May 2021. https://www.mainlinezine.com/atlanta-school-board-elections-impact-us-all/.

McCray, Vanessa. Atlanta school board terms will now be staggered”. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. 28 July, 2020.

VoteATL.org

Ballotpedia: Atlanta Public Schools, Georgia, elections (2021)

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