“I’m knocking on doors and shaking hands,” said Terry Turner, a CDL instructor at West Georgia Technical College. “I’m speaking with people and telling them my ideas.”
Running for the District 1 seat are incumbent Dr. Bernice Brooks, Rob Cleveland and Turner. In the District 3 race are incumbent Chris Gammon and Dr. Bob Pinckney. Both districts are in the Villa Rica area, and polls open at 7 a.m. Tuesday.
Brooks, a 12-year member of the board, is focusing on both her past and future on the board as her campaign winds down.
“During my time on the board, we’ve constructed Ithica Elementary and Villa Rica Middle, as well as added classrooms at Glanton-Hindsman and a lunchroom at Villa Rica Elementary,” Brooks said.
The former educator and administrator said she will continue to work on the system’s drop-out rate, creating safe, friendly school environments, and maintaining and adding community partnerships like the county already has with Southwire and Tanner Health System.
“I am experienced, committed and with a passion and a love for the students of Carroll County,” she said.
Turner, who characterizes himself as a “common guy,” said he is not running to make a name for himself.
“I have no ax to grind,” he said. “I have a vested interest with two children still in the system, and I don’t think our tax dollars are being spent well.”
Cleveland said public education is a business and that fiscal responsibility should be shown at all times.
“I understand the business of public education and that Villa Rica kids haven’t gotten what they deserve,” he said. “I’ve always got the children at heart and in mind, and they have remained my focus since the very start.”
Cleveland said the system needs “new energy,” and that he is the candidate to provide that.
“If you do what you’ve always done, you’re going to get what you’ve always gotten,” he said. “Those who think they need something different should vote for me.”
Chris Gammon, a six-year board member, said he is making sure voters know what the board has accomplished since he’s been on the board.
“I want to know they understand the things that have gone on and the direction we’re headed,” he said. “There are a loads of good things going on.”
Gammon’s opponent, former Long Island, N.Y., superintendent Pinckney, said he is not in the business of making negative claims against the current board.
“The system is set in place, and now we just have to find out if the electorate will support a new experience on the board,” Pinckney said.
Pinckney said his being from New York is not a handicap in the election, but a benefit in that he brings something new to the table.
“Education is a national endeavor,” he said. “Coming to the Southeast, I didn’t think there’s a difference in what we want our kids to do.”
The former Westbury Schools superintendent said everyone has different experiences, regardless of hometowns, and that answers are hard to find across the nation.
“No one has that so-called silver bullet,” Pinckney said. “But we can figure things out by talking with the people we serve. My background and orientation tells me to engage the community in major decisions.”
Pinckney said he is committed to public “input instead of public theory,” and that he will look to create a means of communication with his constituents.
“My experience of 40 years in education can serve the board with another voice,” he said. “Another voice might touch on something they hadn’t thought of.”
Gammon cited improved facilities as the biggest improvements, with students being taken out of mobile classrooms and put into adequate facilities.
Beyond that, Gammon said he is proud of the board’s partnerships with local businesses and the institution of the College and Career Academy, of which he is on the board of directors.
As the human resources manager for Printpack Inc., Gammon said he sees firsthand how graduates fair in the business world.
“I want to make sure our students are prepared for the work force or college or whatever they might do after graduating,” Gammon said. “I’ve worked hard to make sure the kids are taken care of.”
Gammon said his experience in both the schools and his full-time job separate him from the other candidates.
“I know the system and I know the business world, and there’s a real link and partnership between those two,” he said.
Turner is stressing to his potential constituents that there are reasons beyond athletics and facility aesthetics for student migration.
“I know why kids are moving to other schools in the area,” he said. “They’ve lost faith and confidence in the system. Our system can’t educate kids or prepare them for their future careers.”
Turner listed several goals for his time as a board member if elected, including improving the academic and athletic programs, engaging students’ families and helping the system become an integral part of the betterment of the community to help improve economic development opportunities.”
Brooks said she would also focus on the county’s dual enrollment program with West Georgia Technical College and the University of West Georgia if elected. She will also strive to hire and retain effective personnel, she said.
“I am experienced and committed to do the job I know I am capable of doing,” Brooks said.
Brooks is passing around a flier detailing what she plans to do “when” she is elected.
“I said ‘when’ I’m elected, not ‘if,’” Brooks said. “I’m just that confident.”