District 5 seat: Pastor to run for BOE

James Walden Sr.

James Walden Sr.

COVINGTON -- Calvary Community Church Pastor James "Tim" Walden Sr. of Covington wants to give back to a community that has been good to him and his family.

Walden, 44, who has worked as pastor of the church on Crowell Road in Conyers for the past seven years, announced Monday his intent to run for the District 5 seat on the Newton County Board of Education, which is held by C.C. Bates.

"My wife worked with the (Newton County School System) for 17 years, and I feel there's a need," he said. "I don't think teachers are getting the support they need, especially in these economic times. They need a voice."

He said the school system was good to him -- the lifelong Newton County resident attended Newton County public schools until he was in 10th grade, when he had to transfer to a private school for health reasons. His two children graduated from Newton County schools.

"I have been influenced by the great teachers and staff all my life and have a vision to keep this going as we see our children succeed and become all they can be," he wrote in a press release. "I think we have the greatest teachers anywhere, and I will be a voice for them, as well as the parents and students."

He said he and his wife Angie, who worked at Ficquett Elementary School for 17 years, always have been involved with Newton County Special Olympics and school PTOs when their children were in school.

"I will not be just a (quiet) 'yes' vote but will do what's best for the teachers, students and parents of Newton County," wrote Walden, who has never held any elected office. "I will be out and about in the schools to see what needs to be done. As I know I can't do it all, I do promise to be a voice, and the people of District 5 (will) be represented."

If elected, he wants to look for more ways to make budget cuts, instead of making cuts to teachers' salaries.

"It's a disgrace to (cut) teachers (salaries)," he said. "I don't think you have to do that. There's got to be something out there, another way. If you can afford to build schools, you need to take care of your teachers and students."

Walden, who also has been a licensed funeral director for the last 20 years, has a bachelor of arts degree in pastoral ministry from United Christian Seminary in Missouri and a degree in funeral service from Gupton Jones College in Atlanta. He also serves as a volunteer chaplain at Newton Medical Center.

In his free time, he enjoys singing, playing music on his guitar and piano and spending time with his family, which includes his wife of 25 years Angie and their son Timothy and daughter Jessica.

Bates' term expires in January 2011, but she announced earlier this year that she would step down from her post in June to move closer to her job as assistant professor in the reading department at Clemson University's College of Education in South Carolina.

The school board will select a person to fill her unexpired term until January, but the board members have not yet announced the person to do that, according to Sherri Viniard, director of public relations at the Newton County School System.

In addition to the District 5 seat, Johnny Smith's District 1 and Cathy Dobbs' District 3 seats are up for re-election this year on the Newton County Board of Education.

Qualifying for the school board seats is April 26 through noon April 30 at the Newton County Board of Elections office, which is located at 1113 Usher St., Suite 103, in Covington. The qualifying fee for school board seats is $216.