In Gwinnett school board race, Knudsen takes commanding lead

Incumbent Steve Knudsen is expected to keep his Gwinnett County school board seat in District 2, according to unofficial election results. (Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com)

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

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Incumbent Steve Knudsen is expected to keep his Gwinnett County school board seat in District 2, according to unofficial election results. (Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com)

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Incumbent Steve Knudsen is expected to keep his Gwinnett County school board seat in District 2, according to unofficial election results.

Meanwhile, candidates in District 4 appear headed for a runoff. None of the five candidates in that race received a majority of votes. The two highest finishers will face off June 21.

With all precincts reporting, Adrienne Simmons, a Georgia Department of Education assessment specialist, received the most votes. She was followed by attorney Alexis Williams, who was narrowly ahead of Kelly Kautz, a juvenile court attorney and former mayor of Snellville.

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Adrienne Simmons speaks during a candidate forum for the Gwinnett County school board. Simmons appears to be one of two District 4 candidates who will compete in a runoff for the seat. (Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com)

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Adrienne Simmons speaks during a candidate forum for the Gwinnett County school board. Simmons appears to be one of two District 4 candidates who will compete in a runoff for the seat. (Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com)

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

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Adrienne Simmons speaks during a candidate forum for the Gwinnett County school board. Simmons appears to be one of two District 4 candidates who will compete in a runoff for the seat. (Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com)

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Tony Sellers, a retired teacher, and Matt Sones, a policy analyst, were the other candidates in the race.

Everton Blair, who currently holds the District 4 seat, did not seek reelection.

Simmons and Williams stand on opposite sides of several hot-button issues in education, according to questionnaire responses provided to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

ExploreGwinnett District 4: Five candidates compete for school board seat

Williams has been outspoken against critical race theory and said she supported recently adopted laws backed by Republican lawmakers, such as the parents’ bill of rights and the prohibition of “divisive concepts” in schools. She said that law will “protect our children from political propaganda that seeks to promote lies that would be detrimental and harmful.”

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Alexis Williams speaks during a candidate forum for the Gwinnett County school board. Williams appears to be one of two District 4 candidates who will compete in a runoff for the seat. (Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com)

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Alexis Williams speaks during a candidate forum for the Gwinnett County school board. Williams appears to be one of two District 4 candidates who will compete in a runoff for the seat. (Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com)

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

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Alexis Williams speaks during a candidate forum for the Gwinnett County school board. Williams appears to be one of two District 4 candidates who will compete in a runoff for the seat. (Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com)

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Simmons said she wasn’t supportive of those laws. She emphasized placing trust in teachers to present the curriculum. “I think schools should be more proactive in embracing current events and exploring varied perspectives with students in a safe space and in a safe way,” she said.

Knudsen, president of a manufacturing company, is currently vice chair of the school board. He received about two-thirds of votes in the district to defeat challenger Michael Rudnick, the fleet manager for Lawrenceville.

ExploreGwinnett District 2: Knudsen faces challenger in school board race

Rudnick argued that Gwinnett is in need of a course correction to return to being a high-quality district. Knudsen said it still was high-quality and needed continued leadership to continue improving.

Gwinnett’s May school board elections in past years would have been party primaries for a general election in November.

In this year’s legislative session, Republican lawmakers and Gov. Brian Kemp made Gwinnett’s school board elections nonpartisan, eliminating primaries and party designations on ballots.

ExploreMore stories about Gwinnett County Public Schools

Turnout in these races for these two seats was significantly lower than the last time they appeared on ballots. In the 2018 general election, 63,000 people voted in District 2 and 68,000 in District 4 — more than double the turnout in those races this year.