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    Organization: Georgia Association of Educators     Date: 9/23/2018


  Howard flush with cash for Cobb County school board race  

(Monday,04/23/2018 ©  Marietta Daily Journal)

Cobb’s school board is bound to have at least one new member come January, but two other seats could change hands as challengers raise money ahead of next month’s primary and November’s general election. The six candidates running for school board have amassed more than $30,000 between them, campaign disclosures show. But pediatric dentist Jaha Howard, a Democrat, has raised more than $22,500 alone, more than the other five candidates combined. Howard is running for the seat held by retiring school board member Susan Thayer after two failed bids for State Senate. And while his war chest dwarfs his opponent’s, he has not spent any of it, according to his latest round of disclosures filed earlier this month. He is running against Democrat Angelia Pressley, who works in marketing and public relations. Pressley, a managing partner at Smyrna-based AP Advertising and Public Relations, has collected $2,617 for the race, including a $1,142 loan, records show. She has spent nearly $1,200 of that, leaving her with nearly $1,430 on hand with the May 22 primary five weeks away. Much of Howard’s money has come from fellow dentists, orthodontists and oral surgeons, records show, but he also received a $300 donation and an endorsement from Educators First, a teacher advocacy group. It isn’t the first time Howard has had the support of the organization, which also endorsed him during his failed bid for the General Assembly last year, according to Tana Page, the group’s executive director. Page said her organization is “pleased as punch” with Howard, and believes he would make a great fit for the school board. “Educators First has dealt with Dr. Howard in his prior race,” Page said. “We got to attend some of his events, meet his family and get to know him personally. We’re very impressed with his dedication to the community and his knowledge of education issues.” The Cobb County Association of Educators has not endorsed any candidates yet. Connie Jackson, the group’s president, said endorsements will likely happen in the next week or two after her organization conducts interviews with the candidates and consults with Cobb’s teachers. Jackson said she has heard support for both Howard and Pressley among teachers and doesn’t think the race for the seat, which represents Smyrna and other parts of south Cobb, will come down to how much money has been raised. “(Howard) already has an established base because of his prior campaigning,” Jackson said. “He’s cultivated a lot of support in his previous races.” Other notable contributions Howard received were $2,000 from the law office of former Georgia Gov. Roy Barnes. He also collected $250 from Erick Allen, a Democrat running for the House District 40 seat held by retiring state Rep. Rich Golick, R-Smyrna. No Republican qualified to run for the Post 2 seat. In Post 4, Cobb school board Vice Chairman David Chastain has raised more than $4,000, half of which he loaned himself for his second bid for the school board, disclosures show. Chastain received a $1,000 donation from Marietta resident Raymond Yearty, president and CEO of Yearty Consulting. He also received $500 from Melissa Bottoms, wife of Gary Bottoms, former chairman of the Cobb Chamber of Commerce. He faces Democrat Cynthia Parr, a pastor at Faith Presbyterian Church in Canton. Parr has filed an affidavit vowing not to exceed $2,500 in contributions or expenditures for her campaign. In east Cobb, Post 6 school board member Scott Sweeney — a Republican seeking a third term — will face off against Democrat Charisse Davis, a librarian at the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System. Sweeney filed an affidavit back in 2015 saying he would not raise or spend more than $2,500 this election cycle. Davis has raised $4,350, according to her disclosure reports. That includes a $1,575 loan to herself and a $1,000 contribution from the Washington-based Leaders in Education Fund. She has spent nearly $2,200 to date, leaving her campaign with a total of $1,964. While Howard and Pressley go head to head next month, the Democrat and Republican candidates running against each other for school board won’t meet until the Nov. 6 general election.