Democratic Cobb school board member Alison Bartlett knew she was up for a challenge when her district was redrawn to become majority Republican.
But she said she was surprised that in losing Tuesday’s election, she lost precincts around Osborne High School, which are heavily Democratic.
“I guess the community just didn’t like me,” she said.
Bartlett, a former teacher, lost to Brad Wheeler, who received 60 percent of the vote to Bartlett’s 39 percent.
Bartlett is one of two Democrats on the seven-seat board.
“The purpose (of the redistricting) was to make the area I represent majority Republican and to break up the Osborne (High) community,” Bartlett said. “I think it’s very political and it just shows how politics work.”
Joe Dendy, chairman of Cobb County’s Republican Party, disagrees.
“This is a true reflection of what people want,” Dendy said. “Education is very high on our agenda. I seriously think that we will have a board that will work in unison and not against each other. The bottom line is the children and their education.”
Despite the loss, Bartlett said she’s proud of her tenure and has few regrets.
“There were some great things we were able to accomplish as a board. I hope they don’t go by the wayside,” Bartlett said.
During her four-year term, she said she worked to create athletic facility standards among the high schools, hire a minority superintendent with unanimous board support and raise the academic profile of Osborne High.
But after being elected, her district, which stretches from north Powder Springs to south Marietta, was redrawn to include residents who sent their children to Harrison High School in Kennesaw, a heavily Republican area.
With about $6,000 in funding, Bartlett held public forums, met with small groups, made robo-calls and went door to door asking for votes.
Her opponent, Wheeler, a former educator, said he led a grass-roots campaign, speaking with community members directly. He said he will bring fiscal management to the board.
“I think that things that directly impact the classroom are essential,” he said. “And those things need to be priorities. … I’m sure cuts are going to have to be made that are not going to make everyone happy.”
Dendy said Wheeler’s experience will be a plus. “It’s so good when you have somebody who’s been in the trenches. … That, on top of the fact that he’s a good, hardworking gentleman.”