A recount has confirmed that incumbent Thad Mayfield and Vickie Turner are headed to a runoff on July 22.
The DeKalb County Board of Registration & Elections conducted a recount of votes for School Board District 5 on May 29 at the request of challenger Jesse “Jay” Cunningham, who came in third in the May 20 election. Challenger Vickie Turner had 64 more votes than Cunningham.
The numbers are in and the results are the same.
“Mr. Cunningham’s recount request was taken and accepted because it is his right under Georgia Elections Code. We started the recount at 10 a.m. and we were basically finished by lunchtime,” said Maxine Daniels, Director of DeKalb County Voter Registration and Elections. “My view is that it is within his rights to request it but we didn’t expect any change in the outcome of count that was certified on May 20 by the DeKalb Board of Registration & Elections.”
In the five-way race Mayfield came in first with 4,407 votes (36.05 percent); Turner came in second with 3,436 votes (28.11 percent); Cunningham came in third with 3,372 votes (27.59 percent).
Cunningham said that now that the recount has concluded, he can move forward.
“Now I can work for the children of DeKalb County with nobody looking over my back. I’ll still be around, at all the board meetings, working for the district,” said Cunningham. “Now I plan to organize a group or committee of concerned parents to fight for our children.”
Cunningham was one of the six school board members who Gov. Nathan Deal removed after scathing reports that the school district was placed on probation by its accreditation agency February 2013. Cunningham said he knows that is a negative aspect that he has continually had to fight against.
“I feel bad for the parents and their kids because they don’t see what’s going on behind closed doors, they just know the governor came and removed us. There is a lot going on behind closed doors that they don’t see, especially when it comes down to the charter schools issues,” said Cunningham. “I don’t want parents, especially those in South DeKalb, to look up down the line and say what just happened? I’ll do my best to keep educating the parents on what is really going on.”
Vickie Turner, who serves as the headmaster of Augustine Preparatory in Decatur, said she is ready for the challenge. Whether it’s being a counselor for a parent in tears, providing spiritual guidance for a teacher, or offering motivation to a student, for Turner, “a typical day” doesn’t exist.
“I have to remain ready and adaptable to all challenges, at all times. I am building a successful environment by handling several different tasks,” said Turner. “At any given time, I can be called on to oversee finances, be a nurse for a wounded child, look over strategies to make sure we are in compliance with the state or just relieve a teacher who may have fallen ill. You make your schedule everyday, and on any day, that schedule can change.”
Turner said wearing multiple hats and performing successfully on a daily basis are skills she would bring to the DeKalb County School Board if elected.
“I work in a spirit of excellence, at the same time, remaining flexible and fair to everyone. I can take the ability to handle pressing issues into the board room,” said Turner. “I have the vantage point of being in the classroom and having experience as a teacher. My husband and I have raised three children here. I’ve been in an administrative role and have proven to be successful with the support of a great staff. I will bring a firm, yet collaborative, voice to the school board if elected.”
Turner said a couple of scenarios have been weighed out as far as who will lead the private school, which currently educates students in preschool – 8th grade.
“We have considered several options for the school. We would more than likely move someone up on staff. Whatever decision is made, I want the voters to know that I will work tirelessly for them and their children,” said Turner. “When you vote for me, you’re voting for someone who will work with integrity, passion and someone who is committed to persevere. I will make sure everyone’s input is considered and nobody will be left out of decisions in our district.”
After receiving the news she would be in a runoff, Turner visited the Cherry Ridge neighborhood in Decatur and the Fairington Farms community in Lithonia to talk school board issues with parents and garner support.
“My husband of 37 years, Robert Turner III, and myself, are products of public schooling. There is no reason why we have to keep seeing our parents in tears and anguish, or our great teachers leaving our county due to desperation or micro-management,” said Turner.
“Voters should choose me because I care and I am committed. I am a collaborator and can support and get the support of my peers. Ultimately, I get positive results,” said Mayfield, who lives in Lithonia. “Equally as important, I am a visionary when it comes to the outlook for our children and our school system. I believe I can contribute to a way forward.”
Turner and Mayfield will discuss the issues and their platforms on decreasing class sizes, closing disparity gaps, improving district technology and other goals they see for the district at upcoming forums and both say they will continue to go into neighborhoods and talk to parents. One of those forums will be on Saturday, May 31, 10 a.m. at the DeKalb County branch of the NAACP.