Republicans remained in control of the Cobb County school board, though Democrats apparently picked up two seats, to bring their number to three out of seven members.
Challenger Charisse Davis trailed two-term incumbent Scott Sweeney until the final 5 percent of votes came in. The final counts and unofficial results pushed her ahead by a few more than 1,000 votes out of 42,124 cast, according to unofficial results.
The county board of elections will continue to work on certifying the vote counts. Provisional and absentee ballots are still being counted.
She will join fellow Democrat Jaha Howard, a dentist who had no competition and was elected to his first office, and David Morgan, who is in his second term. All are African American.
Cobb County has been a typical Republican dominated suburban Atlanta county until the last decade. It has slowly become more diverse and that showed in the results Tuesday.
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That was reflected as county voters gave top Democrats on the statewide ticket, from governor candidate Stacy Abrams to Agriculture Commissioner candidate Fred Swann edges in votes, unofficial results say.
Sweeney was a business executive who had served in leadership roles on the school board. The school district covers parts of East Cobb County,
Davis, the challenger, is a 15-year educator and mother of two boys in Cobb County schools. She taught kindergarten before earning a Master of Library and Information Science degree, and became a media specialist for grades K through 6. She also obtained a specialist degree and now works as a librarian in the Atlanta-Fulton library system. She volunteers in school and served on her sons’ local school council and the leadership boards of the PTA and parent foundation.
Davis says she has spent her adult life working with children and has firsthand experience as an educator with experience ranging from educational theory to policies. She preached key issues of school safety, early learning and her experience.
“My teaching experience is also recent experience, meaning that I understand the challenges that students and staff face in today’s educational climate,” she told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution earlier.
She says Cobb priorities are expanding early learning to more schools and students, which is critical.
“This is not about teaching young kids how to read; it is about establishing a foundation for students that will yield benefits for many years to come,” she said.
Other priorities are reaching students with learning disabilities or those who learn best with alternative teaching methods.
School safety is another key concern — from environmental safety in buildings to bodily safety of students and staff. She says school safety can be enhanced with proactive work such as finding troubled students early and working with them. She wants safety to be viewed and acted on comprehensively, from school safety to bus routes and crossing guards.
David Chastain, the other Republican incumbent, had a little more room, and won another four years on the school board in District 4, according to unofficial results. His district covers north-central Cobb County.
He outpaced challenger Cynthia “Cyndi” Rose Parr, a Demcrat, and is the apparent winner.
Chastain graduated from Cobb County schools in 1975 and earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration in real estate urban economics.
On the issue of high-stakes testing, he believes the county schools need to stay focused on continuing assessments and the ability to better support each student with more individualized support.
“Add to that the need for the basics of reading, writing and math. Parents and guardians want their children to be ready for the new technologies, new business models, and the unseen opportunities the future will bring,” he told The AJC earlier. “That means doing the basics better,” he said.
He supports the district’s “Cobb Teaching and Learning System,” (CTLS) which allows teachers and parents to track individual student progress.
“Reading, and reading remediation where needed, is a top priority so that every student has the ability to be a confident continuous lifelong learner,” Chastain said.