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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Atlantans elect freshman-dominated school board

New folks will outnumber incumbents on the Atlanta Board of Education next year, as city voters put four freshmen in office and ousted board Chairman Reuben McDaniel.

Buckhead attorney Cynthia Briscoe Brown beat McDaniel, a financial executive, for the at-large seat 8 with 66 percent of the votes in their runoff election on Dec. 3.

Her run was "the natural next step" after years of volunteering in schools, Brown told WSB-TV last night as the final votes were counted.

Attorney and former public school teacher Jason Esteves bested Lori James for the other at-large seat with 71 percent of the votes. Counseling center director Steven Lee won west Atlanta's District 5 and teacher-turned-teacher trainer Eshe' Collins will represent District 6 in the southwest, both winning about 60 percent of the vote, according to the unofficial results from Fulton County.

The four join fellow freshmen Leslie Grant and Matt Westmoreland, who were both elected in November to the nine-member nonpartisan body.

Turnout failed to top five percent in many precincts. But the citizenship award goes to the 21 percent of voters who turned out in west Buckhead's 08F1 precinct, the most in the city.

One of the new board's first jobs will be finding a new boss to replace caretaker superintendent Erroll Davis.

Davis, you'll recall, stepped in amidst charges that teachers helped children cheat on high-stakes tests and that the then-superintendent let it happen. A racketeering trial for the nearly three dozen educators may start soon, for those who don't cop a plea.

Then there's the 51 percent graduation rate, a problem mentioned often during the campaigns.

And the electorate only disappointed Mayor Kasim Reed a little. Via Tweet, Hizzoner had asked voters to join him in supporting McDaniel, Esteves, Lee and Collins.

School board terms last four years.

NOTE: This post, which was originally written last night, has been altered to include updated election results.

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