Board victories: Henderson-Baker, Coggin take BOE seats

Photo by Tori Boone

Photo by Tori Boone

COVINGTON -- The Newton County Board of Education is set for next year.

Voters elected two more members to seats on the school board during Tuesday's general election. Results, which are unofficial and incomplete until provisional results are counted, show that Democrat Shakila Henderson-Baker took the District 3 seat with 4,682 votes, or 58.78 percent. Republican Kevin Wade earned 3,280 votes, or 41.18 percent, and three write-in votes were counted.

"I want to thank everybody who supported me during this time," Baker said, adding that her father had passed away over the weekend after a long-term illness. "It's been a long time and a hard loss with my father being a huge supporter. I'm so thankful for this."

She said she would call him with the results after each election, but this time she knew that he already knew.

"It's going to make me work very, very hard," said Henderson-Baker, a lifelong Newton County resident and a parent of two children at Fairview Theme School. "I promise not to disappoint those who voted for me."

She's served 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 volunteered 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.

"It was a good race that we ran ... and I wish the outcome was a little different," Wade said. "But we have to be supportive of what the constituents of District 3 want ... and I plan to stay involved in the community .. and be an active part to make sure the job gets done for our school system. We have a long road ahead of us to get where we need to be."

In the District 5 race, Republican Abigail Morgan Coggin received 3,648 votes, or 64.76 percent, while opponent Sharon Sawyer received 1,980, or 35.15 percent.

"I'm very surprised, but it still hasn't set in," said Coggin, daughter of Newton County Commission Chair Kathy Morgan. Coggin worked in legislative affairs in the state for about eight years. "I'm excited and am looking forward to working with the other board members."

She said her 8-year-old son Shaw already has ordered her to initiate "pizza Friday" as her first duty.

"It's still not a reality yet," said Coggin, parent of second -grader Shaw at East Newton Elementary School and prekindergarten student Kathleen at the First United Methodist Church of Covington. Coggin also has worked as program director at the Newton County Arts Association for the past eight years.

Sawyer was unavailable for comment as of presstime Tuesday.

After a runoff in August, the District 1 seat on the Newton County Board of Education was decided when Republican candidate Jeff Meadors, Georgia Perimeter College's Dual Enrollment coordinator and a former grade school teacher and administrator, defeated Republican opponent Dale Thompson.

The newly-elected members will go through board training later this year and next year; they each begin their four-year terms in January.