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Phinazee announces school board candidacy

ALBANY -- Dean Phinazee isn't taking any chances on people not knowing about his candidacy this time around.

After losing by only 328 votes in the July 2006 Democratic primary to the longest-tenured Dougherty County School Board member, Michael Windom, Phinazee announced his candidacy for Windom's District 6 seat Tuesday morning.

Due to the rainy weather, Phinazee moved a news conference from the steps of the Dougherty County School System Administration Building to the Albany Welcome Center. The event attracted about 20-25 supporters.

"The election is next year, and I'm doing it early because I want a head start," said Phinazee, 60. "I want people to know that I am interested in this position. The last time I ran, a lot of people didn't know I was running. I said, 'It was all in the newspaper. (I was) visiting churches and places. And, I don't know why you didn't know'."

Phinazee's platform is focused on improving the Dougherty County School System's graduation rate, which has improved from 50.1 percent in 2002 to 75.4 percent in 2009 after summer school.

"We've done a good job to increase graduation in Dougherty County, but that's still not good enough for me," Phinazee said. "Research shows that 70 percent of black male students that enter the ninth grade will not graduate. Also, 25 percent of the students that do not graduate end up incarcerated, and so this is one of the things that I'm focusing on is increasing graduation rate so students can get decent jobs and be productive citizens."

Phinazee said he started teaching in Calhoun County. He also worked three years at Albany State University in the late 1970s, where he "trained adults who were training to be day care workers." He also taught elementary education at Isabella, Mock Road and Martin Luther King Jr. elementaries before retiring in 2005.

Phinazee has been married 37 years to his wife, Brenda, who is also a retired educator. They have two grown children.

"What I like about Dean is that he's a fair man and that he's for the school system, for children and for education," said Lynn Davis, who has known Phinazee for 10 years. "He's just a good person that I know will come in and will try to do the best for the school system."

In the unofficial Democratic primary results from July 2006, Windom beat Phinazee 891-563. Windom was the Dougherty County School Board chairman from 2007 to 2008. He serves as the director for District 2 of the Georgia School Boards Association. He has served on the DCSS school board since 1995.

"I think I bring a new perspective to the board and the students," Phinazee said. "I think Michael (Windom) is focused on the position he holds."