ALBANY, Ga. — The margin of Lane Price’s resounding victory over Dougherty County School Board at-large incumbent Anita Williams-Brown on Tuesday surprised many in the community and left many to speculate that it could be an agent of change in the way the county conducts the business of education in the future.
Price, a former educator and the medical director at Willson Hospice House, ran on a platform that declared the system was broken and needed to be fixed. Along the way, she won 12 of the county’s 28 precincts and also garnered the lion’s share of the popular vote with 8,685 ballots, which translated to 57.2 percent of all votes cast in the race. In six of the precincts she won, Price claimed four of every five votes that were cast.
By contrast, Williams-Brown won 16 precincts but finished with 6,499 votes. She topped 70 percent of the votes cast in just two locations.
Williams-Brown carried Carver Teen Center with 71.61 percent and Turner Elementary with 72.13 percent.
Price carried Palmyra Road with 80 percent, Covenant Presbyterian with 79.70 percent, Beattie Road with 80.18 percent, Merry Acres with 88.08 percent, Christ Church with 82.23 percent and First Christian with 86.86 percent.
Overall, 17,359 Dougherty County voters — just over one-third of the county’s 52,469 registered voters — went to the polls Tuesday. That was 2 percentage points better than the statewide turnout of 31.35 percent.
“I’d like to thank Dougherty County for believing in me and for giving our School Board another opportunity to prove we are capable of achieving excellence,” Price said late Tuesday after the results were known. “It’s not going to be a simple task, but I have extreme faith that the School Board will work together to overcome the challenges it is currently facing. I will be ready to hit the ground running in January.”
Calls Wednesday requesting comment from Williams-Brown were not returned.
Board Chairman James Bush, who endorsed Williams-Brown last week, took her loss in stride.
“The people have spoken, and they have said they wanted Ms. Lane in office. I am looking forward to working with her,” Bush said.
When asked if he was surprised by Price’s margin of victory, Bush replied, “I am not surprised by anything that happens in politics. The people voted, and it was clear that they wanted Ms. Lane by 2,100 votes.”
Aside from Price, the board will include at least one more new face and possibly two. Former Dougherty School System principal Robert Youngblood will assume the District 1 seat being vacated by David Maskche, who did not stand for re-election after four terms on the board.
The other seat in question is the District 3 post currently held by Velvet Riggins, who is facing a Sept. 17 trial date on four felony counts involving accusations of free and reduced-cost school lunch fraud. She was suspended from office by Gov. Nathan Deal pending the results of the case against her after a tribunal of two non-Dougherty school system officials and a member of the attorney general’s office reviewed the case and recommended the suspension.
If she is acquitted, Riggins, who ran unopposed on Tuesday for a new four-year term, would immediately regain her seat. If she is convicted, a special election would likely be conducted in March for the post.
The composition of the new board also could result in a change in the position of board chair, which is determined by board members. Bush currently serves as chairman. Board member Darrel Ealum, who campaigned on Price’s behalf during the election, is expected to lobby in January for the chairmanship.