22 candidates vie for seven seats on smaller DeKalb School Board

3/14/2014, 6:01 a.m.
The races to populate the new seven-member DeKalb School Board will be among the hottest ones on the May 20 ...

The races to populate the new seven-member DeKalb School Board will be among the hottest ones on the May 20 ballot.

When qualifying closed on March 7, a whopping 22 people had qualified for the seven seats.

The victors will take office in January 2015.

State legislators reduced the School Board to seven members from nine by eliminating the at-large districts 8 and 9.

Seven incumbents, including four of the members appointed last year by Gov. Nathan Deal, qualified and will be on the ballot.

The list also includes former School Board members Jesse “Jay” Cunningham and Don McChesney, who lost his District 2 seat in his 2012 re-election bid.

In District 3, incumbent Michael Erwin will face Jerrie Bason, an ordained minister; Jarrod Jordan, a nonprofit manager; Atticus LeBlanc, an Avondale Estates general contractor; and Willie Mosley Jr., a security officer.

In District 4, incumbents Jim McMahan and Karen Carter will face video editor John Oselette and Ella “Coach” Smith, who was a candidate in 2010.

For the District 5 race, incumbent Thad Mayfield will face Cunningham, who was removed from the DeKalb School Board in 2013 by Deal; Pia “Chaz Afzal” Bhatti, a Lithonia life insurance salesman; R. Alexander Fitzhugh, an Ellenwood businessman; and Vickie Turner, founder and director of the Augustine Preparatory Academy in Decatur.

In District 6, Dr. Melvin Johnson, the incumbent, will face Bridgeman Bolger, a chef at the Marriott Evergreen Conference Center in Stone Mountain and a 2004 graduate of Stephenson High School.

In District 7, incumbent Joyce Morley will face Lee V. Dukes, a retired AT&T research development engineer from Lithonia, and Kim Ault, a community organizer from Clarkston.

In the District 2, incumbent Marshall Orson will face McChesney, whom he defeated for the seat in 2012.

In District 1, Stan Jester, husband of former School Board member Nancy Jester, is unopposed and will succeed incumbent appointee John Coleman, who chose not to run for election.

Jester’s wife, who was removed from the School Board by Deal in 2013, is a candidate for state school superintendent.