Challenger Jim McMahan hauled in 65 percent of the vote en route to usurping H. Paul Womack’s District 4 seat in last week’s runoff elections.
“I was pleasantly surprised at both the turnout and the vote,” McMahan said. “I did not expect such a large margin of victory — I think it’s an indication of the voters wanting a change.”
McMahan scored 2,920 votes to Womack’s 1,557 during the Aug. 21 runoff, a stark turnaround from the then- four-man July 31 general primary and nonpartisan election.
Womack was the leading vote-getter then, garnering 47 percent of the vote yet falling short of the required 50 percent plus one vote to win outright. Tom Gilbert and Jim Kinney, who rounded out the field, later publicly endorsed McMahan.
McMahan acknowledged the new school board, charged with guiding a school system mired in a budget crunch, has its work cut out for it when it convenes in January.
“We need community support for our schools … that’s what we have in the 4th District,” said McMahan. “Everybody’s fired up.”
Elsewhere, Melvin Johnson easily topped fellow political newcomer Denise McGill in their District 6 runoff race.
Johnson, a retired school administrator, walked away with 66 percent of the vote during their head-to-head matchup Aug. 21.
“I’m excited the voters chose me to represent them and the entire community in improving student achievement in this great school system of ours,” said Johnson. “They’ve granted me the opportunity to follow through with my platform to restore excellence in DeKalb County.”
He also acknowledged the board’s formidable task at hand.
“We have to re-establish public trust, we have to be fiscally responsible and we have to set goals and a vision for the school system,” Johnson said. “And, we have to involve all the players — the community, business world, students and parents — while being transparent in the process.”
Johnson will succeed current District 6 seat holder Thomas Bowen, who opted to step down. Johnson and McMahan are now set to join Marshall Orson as the new faces on the DeKalb School Board.
Orson defeated incumbent Don McChesney by a wide margin in their District 2 race July 31. In the board’s other election, Pamela Speaks held on to her District 8 seat by edging out newcomer Michelle Jenkins-Clark.