It was only a couple months ago when they faced each other in a special election, and now Lauretta D. Gordon and Alex Howard are again running against each other for the same seat on the Richmond County Board of Education.
Mr. Howard coasted to a win in the Sept. 19 special election to fill the District 3 seat to replace John Seitz, who had resigned to be a teacher. The same two candidates are running for the District 3 seat in the Nov. 7 regular election.
"I've got the taste of it, and I'm ready to go," said Mr. Howard, who until September had never served in an elected office.
It's nice to have the title of incumbent, he said, but it is a "two-edged sword." Mustering 85 percent of the votes in September showed that voters want a change, he said. He hopes, though, that voters don't want so much change as not to realize he was just elected.
Ms. Gordon, a political newcomer, has been hitting churches, forums and other venues to get her message out that no matter what the issue, she is committed to doing what is right for children, including making schools safer.
With recent school violence throughout the country, it's important for school officials to tighten security in Richmond County, she said. Discipline problems are much different today from when she was in school.
"We didn't have violence back then," Ms. Gordon said. "You just had the fights over boyfriends and girlfriends."
Nowadays students have greater access to weapons, she said.
For Mr. Howard, hiring the successor to Superintendent Charles Larke is the most pressing issue facing the school board. Shortly after that is ensuring that all schools make adequate yearly progress under No Child Left Behind and are removed from the "needs improvement" list.
"We need a total change with the schools. I think the board is ready for that," he said. "I'm open to anything we can do to help our students achieve AYP."
That includes looking into more gender-separate classes, vocational education in middle schools and the conversion of middle schools into junior high schools, she said.
"Whatever we've done in the past isn't working," Mr. Howard said.
Ms. Gordon said it will take a team effort of the 10-member board to resolve problems. She said that the public is part of that team and that she will be accessible to her constituents - her number is listed in the phone book.
Ms. Gordon and Mr. Howard are hoping to represent a district that stretches from the Summerville area to Fort Gordon.
Reach Greg Gelpi at (706) 828-3851 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
LAURETTA D. GORDON
Education: Business administration degree from Draughons Business College
Profession: Substitute teacher and retired Westinghouse electrical mechanic
Political experience: None
Family: Two children and five grandchildren
Education: Attended Georgia Southern University
Profession: Georgia Bank & Trust financial consultant
Political experience: Elected to Richmond County Board of Education District 3 on Sept. 19
Family: Wife, Katie, and three children
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