Incumbent, APS parent win two Atlanta school board runoff races

Aretta Baldon, left, and Tamara Jones won the two runoff races Tuesday for the Atlanta Board of Education. Courtesy photos.
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Aretta Baldon, left, and Tamara Jones won the two runoff races Tuesday for the Atlanta Board of Education. Courtesy photos.

Credit: Courtesy photos

Credit: Courtesy photos

Two thirds of the Atlanta Board of Education will return to their posts next year after voters reelected a sixth incumbent Tuesday.

Aretta Baldon, 48, narrowly edged out challenger Keisha Carey, 50, in a race for the District 2 seat to represent central Atlanta.

Baldon captured 51% of the vote, according to unofficial Fulton County results.

Her reelection guarantees a measure of continuity on the board, which hired a new superintendent in 2020 and has spent the last year and a half navigating the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a battle between two newcomers, Tamara Jones handily won the runoff race for the At-large Seat 7.

ExploreGet to know the four runoff candidates for Atlanta school board seats

Baldon’s runoff victory means that all six of the board members who ran for reelection this year successfully defended their seats and will continue to chart the course for the 50,000-student Atlanta Public Schools.

“It’s clear that the community is pleased with the strategic direction of APS; their District 2 leadership and advocacy; and all the hard work that the board and administration have been doing during these unprecedented times. But, it’s also clear that there is much more work to be done,” said Baldon, in a statement to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Baldon, who was first elected to the board during a 2019 special election, said she’d spend the next four years working to strengthen family engagement and trust as well as prioritizing teachers and children.

Improving how the district connects with parents emerged as a common refrain shared by many candidates this campaign season.

ExploreMore stories about Atlanta Public Schools

Jones, 53, also pledged to involve families and community members in district decisions, a message she said resonated with voters. She is the mother of an APS middle school student and works in architecture and urban planning.

When her two-year term begins in January, Jones said she’ll work to develop a process that allows for deeper public input: “It’s going to take some concerted effort.”

She said she’ll also push for a literacy program to boost students’ reading and writing skills.

Jones received about two thirds of the vote in the runoff race for the seat currently held by Kandis Wood Jackson, who did not seek reelection.

Jones defeated Kanesha Venning, 41, backed by the Atlanta-based organization Equity in Education. That group endorsed seven school board candidates, five of whom — including Baldon — won their seats.

The organization’s executive director, Anthony Wilson, said he’s optimistic about the future of APS under the next board. He said they’ll need to focus on stabilizing schools, boosting community engagement and promoting equity.

“I think that each of the board members… are very smart and capable people,” he said. “They are all great, and they care deeply about the city and our kids. Each of them are stellar.”

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