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School Board incumbents among 10 early qualifiers

Ken Watts | 3/7/2014, 6 a.m.

Ten candidates, including seven incumbents qualified through Thursday for the DeKalb School Board May 20 non-partisan election.

Marshall Orson, District 2, Dr. Michael Erwin, District 3; Jim McMahan, District 4, Dr. Melvin Johnson, District 6; Dr. Joyce Morley, District 7; Karen Carter, District 8; and Thad Mayfield, District 9 are among those seeking seats on the board that has been downsided to seven seats.

Stan Jester, an IT professional, whose wife Nancy Jester was removed from the board, also qualified for the seat she once held.

Former School member Don McChesney who lost his seat in the 2012 election is challenging is challenging Orson in District 2. Because of the reduced board size, incumbents Carter and McMahan will battle each other for the District 4 seat.

Lee V. Dukes of Lithonia is challenging Morley in the District 7 race.

Qualifying which began March 3 was set to end at noon on March 7.

District 1 board member John Coleman, who was among six members appointed by Gov. Nathan Deal’ announced Feb. 2 that he would not run for election. The sixth appointee, District 5 board member David Campbell has not qualified through Thursday.

Johnson, who was elected to the board in 2012, said he and his colleagues are running again because there is still much work to be done.

“We’ve made the board more accountable and transparent to parents and other taxpayers,” he said. “And I’ve been able to clarify the roles of superintendent and school board members so that they work very well together but avoid destructive conflict.”

Carter, who was appointed to District 8, said she is running for election to maintain the continuity.

“I hoping to continue to turn the tide toward fiscal responsibility,” she said. “We’ve gone from a deficit budget to a positive fund balance. We need to strengthen and grow that positive balance to allow the system to emplement programs that empower teachers to improve student performance in the classroom.”

Erwin, who was unopposed at press time Thursday, said the board has accomplished a lot in short time and he wants to keep the positive momentum.

“We have a balanced budget we’ve reduced the number of furlough days for teachers and staff from six to four,” he said. “This board has worked well together and all us have had the best interest of District at heart.”

Morley said she is running for election because they brought the system back from almost losing accreditation to within reach of regaining full accreditation.

“I feel an obligation to stick around and finish the job,” she said. “We have reached out to parents with our Parent Educational Awareness and Empowerment Conference. We’ve been good stewards of the taxpayers’ money and we have restored trust in the system’s leadership.”