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School Board Incumbent Paul Womack Set for Runoff

Womack received less than 50% in Tuesday's primary.

Three contenders were vying to unseat District 4 incumbent Paul Womack in Tuesday's election for the DeKalb County Board of Education, but it looks like a runoff in three weeks will decide the issue.

Womack, who was first elected in 1981, received 6,705 votes and 46.60% percent, compared to his closest challenger Jim McMahan, who received 4,019 votes.

All 189 precincts have reported, and early, in-person votes have also been counted. The Board of Elections has started the process of counting more than 5,000 absentee-by-mail ballots.

Speaking to Patch after the results came in, Womack said, "Well, there's going to be a runoff. On the whole, people sort of voted for 'out with the old, in with the new'." 

He also faced challenges from Tom Gilbert and Jim Kinney.

Gilbert is a Home Depot employee with two grandchildren in the county system, and Kinney is a Linux Systems Engineer for IBM Security Solutions with a long history of involvement in DeKalb's schools. 

McMahan, a mortgage loan specialist who has children at Henderson Middle and Sagamore Elementary, also spoke to Patch after hearing the results. "Today, more than half of the voters in our district voted against a dismal status quo on the DeKalb School Board that has been failing our students, our teachers and all taxpayers," he said. "In three weeks, I look forward to giving all voters a voice to restore our school system to greatness and smart fiscal management."

Bob Peppel August 01, 2012 at 06:21 AM
As dysfunctional as that school board is I can't believe the voters want to maintain the status quo. There is no hope for our kids.
JuliaMcElroy August 01, 2012 at 12:47 PM
I utterly and completely agree.
Jim Kinney August 01, 2012 at 12:55 PM
I am very happy to endorse Jim McMahan in the upcoming runoff. As a candidate for District 4, I understand the need for an overhaul of the board. My candidacy, while not adequate to replace the incumbent directly, let me meet Jim McMahan. It my sincere opinion that he will do a substantially better job advocating for education than the incumbent he will replace with both my and your effort. <a target="_blank" href="electjimkinney.org>Jim Kinney</a>
Jim McMahan August 01, 2012 at 02:48 PM
Jim, You and Genny are great people. I am thankful for getting to meet you both. Thanks for the endorsement and your support. I'll keep the Patch posted on my public appearances and hope to see people around the Tucker area. Together we can make a difference and I agree "Adequate is not good enough!" Jim McMahan District 4 Runoff Candidate for DeKalb County School Board
Vivian Roland August 01, 2012 at 11:44 PM
Dekalb County school district has gone to hell. Our children are the one's that's suffering.
tom gilbert August 02, 2012 at 12:54 AM
Jim Mcmahan, you have my full support in defeating paul womack, You have my full staff to help in the defeat of paul womack. you are the last piece of the puzzle to put in place to try and save our school system before the state of georgia takes it over. good luck and any thing we can do to help don't hesitate to call, tom gilbert former candidate dekalb school board.2012
Penny Furr August 02, 2012 at 12:39 PM
Mr. Womack needs to be out. His arrogance in pushing through the cell towers without the support of the community was outrageous! I have never seen such arrogance in an elected official. His attitude was we did it, you missed it, tough! Of course he made no effort to inform the neighborhood
Jim McMahan August 02, 2012 at 12:49 PM
Tom, Your support is greatly apprecaited. This is the type of teamwork that our school board needs. Just as in this election, I will work to build relationships with the other board members to create a unified vision for our schools and students. At yesterday's board meeting, I met our new Director of broadcasting (PDS-24) Lillian Govus, from Guilford County Schools, NC. She is NOT related to any current or former school board member. One of her first directives will be to "Stream" all school board meetings and archive them on the school system website for all citizens to see. This is the type of transparency that I have been advocating for some time. You can see her work at the Guilford County School system website below. http://schoolcenter.gcsnc.com/education/components/scrapbook/default.php?sectiondetailid=302043& I will continue to keep the public informed regarding the school board and positive changes for our schools. I am accessible and will communicate to all of our citizens. Your candidate for District 4, Jim McMahan
Jim Kinney August 02, 2012 at 01:31 PM
As a former candidate I have seen the overall apathy of the community towards the schools. At the public forums, there were at most a total of 400 attendees combined once the regular campaign support staff was subtracted out. As voters we get once an election term to send a strong message of our intent. There are 56,000 registered voters in school district 4. Only 15,000 cast votes in this last election for his position. Election watchers would say a 25% turnout for a "primary" is not bad. To me, that says 75% of voters don't know about or have given up on what goes on in the schools. That said, "transparency challenged" is a fair politically correct descriptor for the current board.
Jim Kinney August 02, 2012 at 01:40 PM
It would be a tremendous improvement (and some cost savings) if the archive formats were not closed, proprietary Microsoft Silverlight or Adobe Flash versions. The technical staff has the ability, and no cost tool chains are available, to output a universally accessible format for both streaming and archival needs. Remaking the current archives is unlikely but future archives in HTML5 video format makes it accessible to all for any browser or mobile device.
Don Broussard August 05, 2012 at 04:54 PM
The problems facing the DeKalb School System are centered on finances and ethics -- not on "transparency" and not technical issues like whether to put video cameras in classrooms as Mr. McMahon advocated (since dropped) and whether meetings are archived in HTML5 video. Board meetings are broadcast on the cable and online now. The problem is most of the public does not seems to paying much attention —including these two candidates. Paul Womack has been doing the heavy lifting the past four years: firing Crawford Lewis, getting attendance zones revised for the first time in decades, and getting improvements for Lakeside High, again, for the first time in decades. There is a lot wrong with our school system -- but Paul is not part of the problem. What is Jim McMahon going to solve — unless he can magically come up with $20 million in added tax revenue next year or stop property values from declining? My concern is if Jim is elected, his (sincere) commitment to transparency will merely show him having to make the same painful budget cuts next year and also show him getting "run over" by Gene Walker and Sarah Copelin-Wood, board members who really are a big part of the problem. Paul Womack has shown he can put bi-racial working majorities together on the board to solve problems -- though it hasn't always been pretty. This next term will only be for two years: let's keep Paul Womack on the job.
Don Broussard August 05, 2012 at 04:59 PM
Sorry, sentence should read: "The problem is most of the public does not seem to be paying much attention—including these two candidates (McMahon and Kinney)."
Sam August 05, 2012 at 05:07 PM
If strapping cell repeaters to all hte little babies coming out of Northside would improve my reception, I would VOTE YES. The fact that Mr. Womack supports an idea that will raise revenues, with virtually no adverse effects, speaks highly of his ability to understand revenue need to increase. Cell phone towers are not linked to cancer; this is a populist, non-factual argument: "Do cellular phone towers cause cancer? At this time, there is very little evidence to support this idea. In theory, there are some important points that would argue against cellular phone towers being able to cause cancer. For these reasons, most scientists agree that cell phone antennas or towers are unlikely to cause cancer." http://www.cancer.org/Cancer/CancerCauses/OtherCarcinogens/AtHome/cellular-phone-towers
HDM August 05, 2012 at 08:21 PM
I seem to remember Mr Womack being one of the few responsible members of that board who fought against the tax increase this year.
DennisR August 19, 2012 at 06:30 PM
That was his intentions to not inform the community as he collected a substantial amount of money from the phone company. Why are we ignoring that aspect of what he has done?
Cassie August 20, 2012 at 08:15 PM
Don, Let’s stop playing politics. Paul Womack whole heartedly supported Crawford Lewis. It was only after the District Attorney’s indictment against Crawford Lewis that Paul Womack and other members of the Board of Education decided to save themselves. But not without providing Crawford a sweet deal for attorney fees in the amount of $100K. The initial deal was Crawford would go away until the criminal matter calmed down and would return as Superintendent. Check the DCSS records for the truth. Paul Womack MUST GO!
Jim Kinney August 20, 2012 at 09:31 PM
Based on my conversations with Paul Womack after candidate forums and away from the public, I see Womack as a local tea-party candidate who is working to scrap the public school systems on tax cut at a time. He gave no indication of having any concern for the education process, the quality of teachers, staff or textbooks, or any other aspect of the schools outside of the budget that he wants to slash. He's played the District 4 republicans like a cheap fiddle and they are still foaming at the mouth for more of him. The money-bags behind him must have all of their kids in private school and all of their workers in China. His call for a "criminal investigation" was perfectly timed to catch maximum election coverage. Of course Paul was the budget chair during the time of the "criminal activity" he's shedding crocodile tears over now. He abdicated his elected duty at that time and does not deserve another chance to further the damage. Tomorrow, I will proudly cast my vote for Jim McMahan. Adequate is NOT enough!
Don Broussard August 21, 2012 at 03:16 PM
Cassie, how do you know what the "initial deal" was? You are making up a story for which you have no facts or sources to back up. You leave out that Womack and the board also re-negotiated down Crawford's original sweetheart contract eliminating any "gold parachute" bonus if Lewis left. Compare that to what Supt. Johnny Brown got when he was let go ($250,000). I've checked the DCSS records -- have you?
Jim Kinney August 21, 2012 at 03:23 PM
Maybe a new board will include an "indicted = fired" clause in the next contract. Terminate the superintendent beginning the day of the infraction in the indictment and claw back the paychecks since then.
Don Broussard August 21, 2012 at 03:39 PM
Jim, I share your opposition to the tea party -- and Paul Womack is no tea bagger. Paul's late parents were both educators in rural Georgia and he is committed to public schools. Womack's calls for criminal investigation of the School Administrative Staff under the Superintendent were absolutely CORRECT as confirmed by the recent audit showing $34 Million in overspending! If the School Staff deliberately hides the spending from Womack -- how is that his fault? You seem profoundly naive about how the school system works (and fails) and about the divisions going on in DCSS -- which is why 89% of the people voted for someone other than you three weeks ago. McMahon's background (no college degree) as a futures trader and a mortgage broker -- the professions that just blew up our economy -- really portends well for our school system. But go ahead and vote for him.
Jim Kinney August 21, 2012 at 04:01 PM
When a person who is supposed to be making decisions about resource allocations for public schools keeps repeating the mantra "cut taxes" as the prime reason they think pepople should vote for them, they sound like typical tea-partiers. DCSS have never had the financial resources to do an adequate job much less a great job. The idea of decreasing school resources to score political points with the tea-party supporters is action I find repugnant. BTW: My 1700 votes was pretty good for a totally unknown candidate who spent less than $800. You know who I am!

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