ALBANY, Ga. -- With two young children, Sherrell Byrd said she wanted to run for the District 2 seat of Dougherty County Board of Education.
One of the main reasons she's running for political office for the first time is to keep education as strong as it was for her when she graduated from Westover Comprehensive High School in 1996.
The single mother will be joining what has become a crowded field bidding to unseat incumbent Milton Griffin. Byrd, 31, will be competing against Lynda Weaver in the July Democratic Primary for Griffin's District 2 chair, a spot he's held since being elected in 2000. Donnie Smith, a Republican, is also running for the District 2 spot.
"Basically, I'm running because I want to serve and I'm a product of the Dougherty County School System and I'm passionate about the city," Byrd said Thursday afternoon as she spoke outside the DCSS Administration Building. "I can take it and will take it, if I am voted in. This city is only as strong as its school system."
Byrd said she was inspired to run for political office by the recent successful candidacy of Albany City Commissioner Christopher Pike, who is also 31. After working at Chehaw Park as its marketing director for 2 1/2 years, Byrd has been employed the last 1 1/2 years by Albany State University as its First- and Second-Year Experience Coordinator.
"My role at ASU is dropout prevention and to make sure we retain our first- and second-year students," said Byrd, who graduated from Georgia State University in 2001 with a bachelor's degree in psychology.
Byrd said she has worked with named Superintendent Joshua Murfree, an ASU executive, and believes people should support him.
"Well, he's our superintendent now and it's time we support him, hold him accountable and hold us, as school board members, accountable," she said. "I've had the opportunity to work with Dr. Murfree at Albany State and I see him somewhat as a visionary. He's always been very open minded to my ideas. So we can't say what the future holds, whether he'll be a good superintendent or not, but I think it's important that the community (does its) part to do what's in the best interests of Dougherty County instead of complaining."
Helping students in the Dougherty County School System to start strong and finish strong will be Byrd's main platform.
"It's early intervention and literacy pre-K through first grade," said Byrd, who has children ages 4 and 6, with her oldest in first-grade. "And again, in high school, making sure they have a good finish to prepare them for college and careers, so they can grow up to be productive adults."
Byrd said all of her family lives in Albany and that she is the middle child of three sisters. She declined to provide The Herald with family member names.