Staff Photos: Erin Evans
Top, Newton County Board of Education District 3 candidate Shakila Henderson-Baker shares her excitement with her husband Rodrick following Tuesday’s runoff election results. She took nearly 65 percent of her precincts’ votes, placing her on the Nov. 2 General Election ballot as the Democratic candidate, facing Republican candidate Kevin Wade.
COVINGTON — The race for the District 1 seat on the Newton County Board of Education has been decided, and the contest for the District 3 seat is ready to heat up again.
Tuesday's runoff election showed that Republican candidate Jeff Meadors took the District 1 seat with 61.21 percent of the vote, or 1,174 out of 1,918 votes, while his challenger, Dale Thompson, received 38.79 percent, or 744 votes. No Democratic candidate ran in the election for District 1.
"I feel really good," said Meadors on Tuesday night after the results came in. "I feel good about working with (Superintendent Gary Mathews), who seems serious about turning around the achievement challenges we have, and I think I will work well with the candidates who are left in the race."
Meadors, Georgia Perimeter College's Dual Enrollment coordinator and a former grade school teacher and administrator, said he looks forward to working with new initiatives like the Newton College & Career Academy, improving Adequate Yearly Progress results, looking to other successful school systems for ideas and trying to attract businesses to Newton County.
Thompson said he expected the results to be what they were, and he will continue to be involved in the community and the Newton County School System, as he has two children in its schools — a fourth-grader at East Newton Elementary and a seventh-grader at Indian Creek Middle School. A financial analyst at Pratt Industries in Conyers, Thompson hopes to continue providing ideas to the school board.
"Schools have a hard road," he said. "It will be interesting to see how the board will act without the financial experience on the board now."
District 3 candidate Shakila Henderson-Baker was the Democratic party's choice to face Republican candidate Kevin Wade in the Nov. 2 General Election. In the runoff, she received 64.97 percent of the votes, or 345 out of 531 votes, and her competitor, James Johnson Jr., received 35.03 percent, or 186 votes.
"I feel really great," said Baker, a lifelong Newton County resident and a parent of two children at Fairview Theme School. "I'm not done. I'm going to continue doing what I've been doing — going out and getting my information out. I came into this saying that I was a highly qualified parent, and that continues to be my platform."
She also feels she has a diverse background — serving as a case worker to students at Eastside High School under the Youth Workforce Investment Act, which provides academic and employability skills to those age 14 to 21, and volunteering for the past four years as a teen coordinator at Washington Street Community Center, where she also serves as an after-school tutor there for kindergartners through ninth-graders.
"I think it's going to be a good race," said Wade, an accountant with Delta Air Lines at its headquarters in Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. "Either of us will be a good, qualified candidate, and it's up to the public to make a sound decision."
He said they both are parents to children in the school system, but he believes he holds a better financial background.
"With (school board members Johnny Smith and Greg Proffitt, both who work at Newton Federal Bank) leaving in December, now we run the risk of not having someone on the board with financial background," Wade said.
In the District 5 race, Republican Abigail Morgan Coggin and Democrat Sharon Sawyer will face off in the November election, as both were uncontested in the primaries.