Former chairwoman Cathy Williams wants to be on the Muscogee County School Board again.
Williams, president of NeighborWorks Columbus, qualified Thursday to run for the board’s District 7 seat. She was the nine-member board’s lone countywide representative for eight years before deciding to not seek re-election in 2014, when real estate company owner and former teacher Kia Chambers won the seat.
In an interview with the L-E six months ago, when asked whether she would run again, Williams said, “I think if I were to even consider it, it would probably be after I retire.”
Williams, 58, isn’t retiring, so she explained the change of mind Thursday by saying, “I wasn’t satisfied with those who have qualified.”
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They are former board member Norene Marvets, a jeweler, and Shelia Williams, executive director of B&O Services.
The Ledger-Enquirer reported last month that District 7 representative Shannon Smallman won’t seek re-election. Cathy Williams said she was going to support Joseph Brannan, assistant general manager for PMB Broadcasting, but he decided not to qualify, she said, despite filing March 3 a declaration of intent to accept campaign contributions. Brannan wasn’t reached for comment Thursday.
Qualifying for the May 24 nonpartisan election ends Friday at noon.
Cathy Williams said, “I have such passions for both public education and this community that I feel compelled and called to do this. I still have something to offer.”
Smallman, whom she called “a terrific board member,” is Cathy Williams’ campaign manager, and Brannan is her campaign treasurer.
“We do have some low-performing schools, but they are doing better,” she said, “and I want to continue that work.”
Sheila Williams said in a news release Thursday, “We must begin to value and take care of our people again, starting with our teachers. It’s been way too long since teachers have been given raises. That’s one way to begin the process of fixing the nearly 20 percent of perpetually failing schools in Muscogee County.”
The first challenger vying for Sheriff John Darr’s office has qualified for the primary election May 24.
Pam Brown, who narrowly lost to Darr in 2012’s Democratic Primary, paid her qualifying fee today. Two other challengers, Robert Smith and Donna Tompkins, have filed letters of intent to run, but have yet to qualify. Nor has the incumbent qualified.
Because of a change in Georgia law, Darr, who has run twice as a Democrat, can wait until the last minute (Friday at noon) and qualify as an independent, avoiding a primary campaign.
Others who qualified Wednesday and Thursday are:
▪ Incumbent Probate Court Judge Marc D’Antonio qualified for re-election. He has no opposition thus far.
▪ Incumbent Municipal Court Judge Steven Smith qualified for re-election, joining challenger Cynthia Maisano in the race. Both qualified as Democrats.
▪ Sylvia Hudson qualified as a challenger for clerk of Municipal Court, joining incumbent Vivian Creighton-Bishop in the race. Both qualified as Democrats.
▪ Two new Columbus Council candidates and three new Muscogee County School Board candidates qualified. Jonathan Paul Davis joined Robert Garrett in the race for the open Council Post 8 seat and Marquese “Skinny” Averett qualified to face incumbent Evelyn Turner-Pugh in District 4. Shelia Williams joined former school board member Norene Marvets in the race for District 7 seat, which has no incumbent running. Laurie Cochran McRae joined the crowded field of Todd Robinson, Robert Wadkins and Pete Taylor seeking the empty District 5 seat. And Vanessa Jackson joins incumbent Athavia Senior in the District 3 race. Including the above, others who have qualified as of noon Thursday are:
▪ State Court Judge Ben Richardson and State Court Solicitor Suzanne Goddard, neither of whom yet faces opposition.
▪ Marshal Greg Countryman and challenger Bernard Spicer.
▪ Incumbent Superior Court Clerk Linda Pierce.
▪ Council Post 2 incumbent Glenn Davis.
▪ Council Post 4 incumbent Evelyn Turner-Pugh.
▪ Council Post 6 incumbent Gary Allen.
▪ Council Post 10 challenger Teddy Reese.
▪ School Board District 1 incumbent Pat Hugley-Green and challenger Alfred Stewart. Qualifying closes at noon Friday.