Voters fill DeKalb, Gwinnett school board seats; reject Cherokee group

Ernest Baldwin lines up multilingual “I Voted” stickers at Unity Atlanta Church in Peachtree Corners on Tuesday, June 21, 2022, during the primary runoff. The new polling location replaced one that was at Peachtree Corners Christian Church. Ben Gray for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Ben Gray

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Ernest Baldwin lines up multilingual “I Voted” stickers at Unity Atlanta Church in Peachtree Corners on Tuesday, June 21, 2022, during the primary runoff. The new polling location replaced one that was at Peachtree Corners Christian Church. Ben Gray for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Ben Gray

Cherokee County voters completed their rejection of a group of firebrand school board candidates that attempted to stoke fears over critical race theory while railing against social emotional learning as a means of taking control from parents.

In Tuesday’s elections, Erin Ragsdale and Susan Padgett-Harrison won Cherokee County school board GOP runoffs against members of the 4CanDoMore group, which received backing from the national 1776 Project PAC.

Ragsdale, a former teacher, defeated Sean Kaufman in District 5. She will face Democrat Sean Jackson in November.

Padgett-Harrison, a former district employee, defeated Ray Lynch in District 6. Padgett-Harrison has essentially won the seat because no Democrat is running for it.

In May, two members of the 4CanDoMore group lost to incumbent candidates.

Three other metro Atlanta school districts also held runoff elections on Tuesday. The results are considered unofficial until certified.

In DeKalb County’s nonpartisan races, District 6 incumbent Diijon DaCosta appeared to defeat Janet Hughes. Newcomer Whitney McGinniss appeared to beat opponent Candice D. McKinley for the District 2 seat being vacated by Marshall Orson. All precincts had reported by 11 p.m. Tuesday.

Adrienne Simmons had a majority of votes in the race for the District 4 seat on the Gwinnett County school board as of 11 p.m.

If results hold, Simmons will defeat Alexis Williams and join the board at the start of 2023. She will replace Everton Blair, who did not seek reelection and endorsed Simmons.

Simmons has never served in elected office, but she has had a 20-year career in education.

This year’s school board elections were the first to be nonpartisan in Gwinnett, Georgia’s largest school district, because of legislation passed by Republican lawmakers. In recent years, the board has become majority Democrat, and that majority ousted longtime Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks last year.

Democrats in Fayette County’s school board District 2 chose Regina Daigre to run in the general election against Republican William Leon Yarde.