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Education candidates face runoff

Special to the Citizen: Sue Ann Kuhn-Smith
 Shakila Henderson-Baker, left, a candidate for the Newton County Board of Education District 3 seat, watches the results at the Newton County Board of Elections on Tuesday night with supporter Lisa Joyce. Baker will face James Johnson Jr. in the Aug. 10 runoff. 

Special to the Citizen: Sue Ann Kuhn-Smith Shakila Henderson-Baker, left, a candidate for the Newton County Board of Education District 3 seat, watches the results at the Newton County Board of Elections on Tuesday night with supporter Lisa Joyce. Baker will face James Johnson Jr. in the Aug. 10 runoff. 

COVINGTON — The primary election isn't yet over for the two contested seats on the Newton County Board of Education.

The races for District 1 and District 3 will head into a runoff, according to final but unofficial election results. Vote totals won't be official until they are certified on Friday.

Voters will have to wait until Aug. 10 to decide who will serve on the District 1 seat, which featured only Republican candidates.

Jeff Meadors and Dale Thompson will compete in a runoff after Meadors took 49.39 percent of the votes, or 1,019 votes, while Thompson took 28.60 percent, or 590 votes. Contender Ron Hart won 22.01 percent of the votes, or 454 votes.

"I feel really good," Meadors said after the results. "The 49.39 (percent) is a really strong lead. I'm going to work very hard for the next 21 days to get out folks to vote for me."

He said he hopes to get out and continue meeting people in the community to voice his side and get them out to vote.

"As a former assistant principal and teacher and as a current administrator at (Georgia Perimeter College), I can help the new superintendent turn the (Adequate Yearly Progress) situation around," he said. "But I can't do it by myself."

Thompson said he felt the runoff would be between him and Hart, since they share similar views and have similar backgrounds in business.

"I want to meet with Ron and some of his supporters and work together for the runoff," said Thompson, a financial analyst at Pratt Industries in Conyers. "They should vote for me if they want somebody with a parent's heart (on the school board)."

The highly contested race of District 3, which contained five Democratic candidates, also will head into a runoff, as many of the candidates expected.

Shakila Henderson-Baker took 36.08 percent of the votes, or 500 votes, and will face James Johnson Jr., who took 19.70 percent, or 273 votes, in the Aug. 10 runoff. Opponents Christine Young Brown had 18.54 percent, Toney D. Collins had 16.88 and Pamela Byrd Consuegra had 8.80 percent of the votes.

"I feel great," said Baker, a parent of two and a mental health clinician for Gwinnett Rockdale Newton division of Mental Health. "I'm just hoping voters are going back out there and support me."

She said she wants to represent parents, as well as all children.

"We need a parent on that board. We take the chance of having a school board without having a single parent," she said. "I think the school board should be very diverse."

Johnson said he's looking forward to getting back out into the community to meet with supporters and other voters.

"I want to do the right thing for the right reason," said Johnson, a retired Army veteran and DeKalb Technical College's director of admission in Covington.

The winner of the District 3 runoff will face Republican candidate Kevin Wade, who was the only Republican to qualify for the District 3 race, in the Nov. 2 general election.

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. James Travis Price and Timothy Walden originally qualified on the Republican ticket, but both withdrew from the election earlier this year.