DeKalb Board District Seats – What's the Plan?

  • SB-79 : Original bill passed in 2012 to limit the DeKalb school board to no more than 7 single member districts.
  • HB 979 : House bill dropped this session to provide for membership of the DeKalb Board in the event that local legislation is not passed during the 2014 legislative session.

The DeKalb County Voter Registration and Elections office stated board members can’t qualify until legislation is passed dictating the district lines and number of seats. With qualifying ending in just over 2 weeks, our fearless leaders need to get a move on it. This related exchange on Facebook between Mike Jacobs, George Chidi, Nancy Jester, Brad Bryant, and others was quite interesting. Since each person has more Facebook friends than I get page views, I don’t think they’ll mind me sharing …

  Mike Jacobs
I cannot explain why seven-seat DeKalb BOE districts have not been adopted for candidate qualifying, which is two weeks away. This should be a function of local legislation. But today the House Governmental Affairs Committee passed HB 979 to preserve the existing seven single-member districts and strip off the two super districts. Something needs to be done to avoid confusion at qualifying.
  George Chidi – May I hazard a guess?
The two board members who lost their super-districts, I’ve heard, want to stay on the board. I suspect they’ve been trying to have the remaining district lines redrawn favorably to allow for a light challenge to re-election, given that other board members — one or more of the appointees, perhaps — do not plan to stand for re-election.
  Nancy Jester – Mike, what needs to be done? What was missing from the legislation in 2012 that does not enable candidate qualifying? Also, please clarify the meaning of HB 979. It also notes the BOE election to be in the general election. Previously, non-partisan elections were held during the primary.
  George Chidi – Normally, I’d be mildly annoyed by a change of the date to November, but given the dearth of declared candidates right now I’d welcome the delay to recruit and to focus in the short term on the sheriff’s race..
  Nancy Jester – I hear you George. In 2010 the BOE elections were part of the general election in November. I’d have to look back and see how the change was made, but in 2012, the BOE race (all non-partisan races) were moved to be held in the primary. In 2012, that was July. It will be helpful to have clarification on the matter.
  Jeff Marc Meeks – Cunningham is running for his seat!
  Brad Bryant – The western super district might see 4 incumbents – or former office holders – in the same district. Thad Mayfield, Jay Cunningham, Gene Walker and David Campbell all live close enough to each other that it is difficult to draw a district that would not include them. The eastern district would place Jim McMahan and Karen Carter in the same district. If Pam Speaks were to run again, she would most likely fall into that district. I believe Ms. Carter will find a tough audience given her stance on the Druid Hills Charter Cluster Her vote would have been the fifth vote required to pass the petition. As such, she needs a super district to garner support. Each of the candidates that were appointed by the Governor were fully aware that the board would be reduced to 7 and that there was the likelihood that standing for re-election would come with a probability of two seated board members running in the same district. Nancy I a not sure if the 2010 election cycle was the only one that placed the BOE election in the general election but from the earliest non-partisan BOE elections, the date was the primary.
  Nancy Jester – Brad Bryant, the 2010 cycle was not the only election cycle that had BOE elections in the November, general election. In fact, on the DeKalb County elections website, you can find the November 4th 2008 election results with the BOE races indicated there. I also found late October 2006 AJC articles about the DeKalb BOE candidates who would be on the November 2006 ballot. So, BOE races in DeKalb were taking place in the general cycle for at least the 2010, 2008 and 2006 elections. The 2012 cycle saw the election in July with board members not taking office until January of the following year.
  Mike Jacobs – Nancy, the current redistricting plan is a 9-district plan that does not comply with the general statute mandating 7 districts. Either we adopt a 7-district plan via local legislation (a preferable approach) or we divide the existing plan with a general bill, because luckily the current plan is severable into 7 districts.
  Brad Bryant – Thanks Nancy – the last time I ran (2002) was when th Board expanded. I was not sure when the change took place. So it looks like the 2006, 2008 and 2010 races would have been decided in the general election. Thanks.
  Nancy Jester – Thanks Mike! I’ll have to go back and read the old legislation but I thought it contained language that allowed for the 2014 elections to simply be the 7 districts (which were reapportioned to comply with the 2010 census data) and the 2 super-districts not continuing going forward past the expiration of the term at the end of 2014. I’m grateful for your communication on this matter, and I’m sure other citizens feel the same. Thanks and keep us posted!
  Mike Jacobs – It doesn’t. I reviewed the local Act and it’s just a plain old 9 district plan. No contingency for 7 seats.
  Nancy Jester – Well drats! Thanks for being on top of things and communicating!
  Brad Bryant – Thanks Mike.
  Yesi Care – I think that members of the delegation fear a Board of 7 because they can’t control the outcome of votes. The delegation’s goal is to protect the status quo, the mediocrity, etc.

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