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Candidate forum was informative

September 24, 2010

Eddie Long has been a hot topic this week, but the world will continue to spin and there are issues that affect us now and into the future. I had the opportunity to attend a forum for candidates running for open board of education seats. The first of three forums was held at the Delta Sigma Theta/Kappa Alpha Psi Community Action Center in South DeKalb, and sponsored by EduKALB. Here are some things I took away from the get together. First, only one incumbent showed up; Jay Cunningham from district 5. I was surprised because my expectation was that no incumbent would show. Cunningham was the classic incumbent. He played on his experience, and made it known that now was not the time to change the board since newer members would have to play catch up. When asked his top priority for fixing the system, his reply was to work with the present members to fix the system then find a new superintendent. His opponents, Dr. Kirk Nooks and Jaques Hall did well though Hall’s inexperience showed. Hall made one comment that struck me as odd considering he is running for the school board. In his intro he commented that he was thankful he did not have any kids in the school system. Not a great thing to say when you are talking to people who have kids in the system. How can I trust you to do what’s right for the system if you would not send your own kids there? All of the other candidates were impressive. Corey Wilson running in district 3 seemed passionate about being on the school board, and has young children attending DeKalb schools in his district. He did refer to himself in the third person a lot, which for me is a bit humorous. The two most impressive candidates were Nancy Jester and Donna Edler. Both were passionate and very well informed. Edler wants to see more in depth reviews of policies such as ethics and nepotism. Jester wants to see the board and the system justify dollars spent every few years in an attempt to maintain better control of the systems budget. I had an opportunity to speak with jester afterwards, and she is full of Ideas, some of which should be put in place whether she wins or not. We talked about involvement by parents, and she stated that the board meets at a time and place that is not as convenient as it could she would like to see meetings held late, like 7pm and a possible return to moving meetings to various places throughout the district. We talked about poverty’s effect on the system, charter schools and the mission of public education in general. She calls public schools a social gift and sees it as the one tool that can arrest the transmission of poverty. I do not know Jim Redovian, but if Jester gets enough exposure and her message reaches enough people she could make some noise. Over all it was a cordial event with few direct shots taken at the incumbents, with the exception of Dr. Nooks who opened up with a few barbs at Jay Cunningham. In the end I was most disappointed at the turnout. If you subtract the candidates, the sponsor groups and the families of the candidates, there may have been at most a dozen citizens. I think that was due in part because of the lack of advertising. I doubt many know that these forums are being held. Heck out doubt if many even care. There are two more of these forums in the next few weeks. One is at Dunwoody city hall and the other is at DeKalb Medical’s auditorium on North Decatur Road.

  1. Ella Smith
    September 26, 2010 at 1:55 am

    I figured as much! Thanks.

  2. Ella Smith
    September 25, 2010 at 7:00 pm

    Thank you DEkalbite. I hope this person came in late to the forum. I went first and had to start off the forum which was not the best for me. I also was totally by myself because Dr. Walker did not even bother to show up to the forum.

    I was extremely impressed with many of the candidates running.

    As voters you really do have a good group of candidates to choice from. It is time for change. Things cannot continue the way they have in the past in DeKalb County.

    • September 25, 2010 at 11:27 pm

      As I walked in, you were leaving the table. I should have mentioned you attended and that was an oversight on my part. I plan to attend the other forums as well, so I hope to hear you speak then.

  3. Dekalbite
    September 25, 2010 at 3:49 pm

    I’ve met Nancy Jester and contributed to her campaign even though Womack is my BOE rep. I’ve never met Corey Wilson, but he sounds a lot like Jester. They both have young children in the school system, are very involved at the schoolhouse level, are very passionate about reforming the school system, and want to see our tax dollars get used for direct instruction for students.

    I know Ella Smith is running against Walker, and I intend to vote for her. Walker seems to be too much of an insider for my taste. I know he has a lot of “big money” contributors so if she has any chance at all it’ll be from dissatisfaction with how things are going in DeKalb Schools.

    Thanks for posting some information about these candidates. I read your blog quite often. It’s well written and and well thought out.

  4. September 25, 2010 at 1:23 pm

    Great report! I’ll post a clip and a link to the DeKalb School Watch blog — we’re all in this together!

    • September 25, 2010 at 11:28 pm

      Yes we are and I appreciate the linking

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