Candidates to learn their fate Tuesday in metro Atlanta school board races

Candidates line up to sign paperwork to run for election at the Georgia Capitol in Atlanta on Monday, March 4, 2024. Friday, March 8, 2024, was the last day to file paperwork to qualify for races on a variety of levels in Georgia. (Arvin Temkar /

Credit: Arvin Temkar/AJC

Credit: Arvin Temkar/AJC

Candidates line up to sign paperwork to run for election at the Georgia Capitol in Atlanta on Monday, March 4, 2024. Friday, March 8, 2024, was the last day to file paperwork to qualify for races on a variety of levels in Georgia. (Arvin Temkar /

Several dozen candidates will learn Tuesday evening if they’ve won spots on various school boards in metro Atlanta’s largest school districts or if they will have to do some more campaigning in a runoff.

There will be several new faces on some boards when the dust settles. In Gwinnett County, Georgia’s largest school district, longtime board member Mary Kay Murphy announced she’s not seeking reelection after 28 years in office. Neither are board members Joyce Morley and Vickie B. Turner in DeKalb County, and David Banks in Cobb County or Katha Stuart in Fulton County — all of whom will have served for about a decade or more.

The runoff date is scheduled for June 18. The nonpartisan races will be decided by June. Those without primary opponents will learn their fate in the Nov. 5 general election. Candidates running unopposed can exhale and prepare to serve in 2025.

Here’s a breakdown of the candidates in metro Atlanta’s largest districts:

Cherokee County

Janet S. Read is running unopposed for board chair. District 1 incumbent Kelly Poole and District 2 incumbent Patsy Jordan are running unopposed.

Clayton County

Incumbents in Districts 2, 3, 5, 6 and 7 are running unopposed.

Cobb County

Incumbents and school board hopefuls are running under a new map in Cobb this year, passed by the Georgia Legislature as a result of ongoing litigation over whether the previous map discriminated against people of color. The Republican-backed map is similar to the one used in the 2022 election.

Banks, who will have served 16 years at the end of his term, will not seek reelection. Republican John H. Cristadoro and Democrat Laura Judge are running for his Post 5 seat. In Post 1, Republican incumbent Randy Scamihorn is being challenged by Democrat Vickie H. W. Benson. And in Post 7, Republican incumbent Brad Wheeler is challenged by Democrat Andrew Cole. Leroy “Tre’” Hutchins, the Democrat incumbent who represents Post 3, is not facing an opponent.

DeKalb County

Three incumbents are not seeking reelection to their nonpartisan seats on the DeKalb school board this year.

In District 1, Austin McDonald and Andrew Ziffer are vying for the seat being vacated by Anna Hill. In District 3, Deidra Rossell Wright is challenging incumbent Deirdre Pierce. In District 5, four people are running for the seat Turner is vacating: Donna Priest-Brown, Manus Bernard Caldwell Jr., Telessa Ammons and Tiffany Tate Hogan. And Awet “Howard” Eyasu is the only person who qualified to run for the District 7 seat Morley is vacating.

Forsyth County

District 2 incumbent Lindsey Adams, a Republican, is being challenged by Trisha Hoyes, a Realtor. Democrat Jessica Fleming is running for the District 2 seat. District 3 incumbent Tom Cleveland is being challenged for the Republican nomination by Dorian Usherwood, a marketing executive. Debbie Stair, a retired educator, is the lone Democrat running for the District 3 seat. Democrat Claudia Wood and Republican Chris Grimes are running for the District 4 seat.

Fulton County

Three seats on the Fulton County school board are up for reelection this year. The races are nonpartisan.

Two candidates, Lyndsey Coates and Sara Gillespie, have qualified to compete for Stuart’s former post, which represents areas in Alpharetta, Roswell, Mountain Park and Milton. Coates works in real estate and Gillespie describes herself as a part-time payroll tax administrator and full-time volunteer.

In District 3, which includes the cities of Sandy Springs, East Point, College Park and Hapeville, incumbent Katie Gregory is running for reelection. She’ll face computer engineer Mustafa Karadeniz.

Incumbent Franchesca Warren is running for reelection in District 4, which includes parts of southwest Atlanta and the cities of College Park, Fairburn, Union City, Palmetto and Chattahoochee Hills. Warren, a former teacher, drew one competitor, Stefani Carreras de Beck, who also describes herself as an educator. De Beck, who does not live in the district, has told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution she was unaware of residency requirements and dropped out of the race.

Gwinnett County

District 1 incumbent Karen Watkins, the board’s vice chair, is seeking reelection against Leroy Ranel Jr. and Rachel Ruffin Stone. The Gwinnett County Association of Educators endorsed Ranel, a cybersecurity professional, in the race.

The race in District 3 will have a new representative for the first time in 28 years with Murphy not seeking reelection. Voters will choose from a field of Domonique Cooper, Yanin Cortes, Steve Gasper, Anthony Mulkey and Shana Vidal White. Murphy endorsed Cortes, a local restaurateur, as her successor, and the association of educators has endorsed White, who works for an education nonprofit.

District 5 representative Tarece Johnson-Morgan will compete against Jacquelyn Evenezer-Gold and Patrina King. The education association endorsed Johnson-Morgan.

The races are nonpartisan.

Henry County

District 1 incumbent Pam Nutt will face three competitors for her seat. They are Cassandra Norsworthy, a teacher; Earlene Crump, another educator; and John H. Dewberry, a pastor.

In District 3, Jennifer Gardner Carter will face Larry Bryant while Gewel Richardson faces Sheri Mimbs for the District 5 seat on the school board.

The races are nonpartisan.

Paulding County

At-Large incumbent Jeff Fuller, a Republican, is being challenged by Shannon Pleasants Price. Cynthia Starke-Jones, a retired educator, is running against Sasha Johnson, a psychologist, for the Democratic Party nomination for the seat.

District 1 incumbent Theresa Lyons, a Republican, is running for reelection. Nina Williams is running as a Democrat for the seat. District 3 incumbent Adam Clayton, a Republican, is running for reelection. Research assistant Antoinette Richards is running as a Democrat for the District 3 seat. District 4 incumbent Deborah Collett, a Republican, is running unopposed.

AJC data specialist Jennifer Peebles contributed to this article.