Darton State College Assistant Professor of Economics Aaron Johnson officially announced his candidacy Thursday for the District 4 Dougherty County School Board seat being vacated by current school board chairperson Carol Tharin, who is not running for reelection. (Staff Photo: Terry Lewis)
ALBANY — Seeking unity and a focus on the positives, Darton State College Assistant Professor of Economics Aaron Johnson officially announced his candidacy for the District 4 school board seat at a news conference on Thursday.
“I want to work on how we can come together as a community and focus on the positives happening in the Dougherty County School System, Johnson said. “We have some jewels in our school system like Robert Cross Middle, Lincoln Elementary and Lake Park. Those schools have enjoyed great success,” Johnson said. “The question is how can we make that success spread to every other school in the district?”
Johnson, a political newcomer, is running for the seat currently held by Board Chairperson Carol Tharin, who will not seek re-election. He is currently unopposed for the seat, but Melissa Strother is expected to officially announce her candidacy shortly after qualifying begins on Monday.
Johnson said one of his first priorities will be getting furlough days reduced from the current number of four days.
“We are in our fifth year of furlough days and with the economy recovering and the system in good financial shape, I see no reason why we cannot reduce the number of furlough days,” he said.
Johnson believes his experience as an economics professor at Darton will be beneficial.
“As a professor of economics I will bring a unique perspective to the position (on the board),” Johnson said. “In today’s economy it’s not so much about working harder as it is working smarter. In the future, 60 percent of new jobs will require a college degree and it’s our task to prepare these students.
“I also want to help foster a culture of transparency within the system,” Johnson said. “We’ve had our problems in the past, and we can’t let others dictate the story. I can promise you that if I am elected we will have thorough investigates of any issues that come up.’
He also wants to raise expectations of a Dougherty County education.
“Let’s break down the barriers of low expectations,” Johnson said. “To do that we need the support of the community. Let’s be positive and prove that the Dougherty County School System can be among the elite programs in the state. The best way to break through the barrier of poverty is through education. Let’s all join hands and break down the barriers that are dividing our community.”
A graduate of the University of Missouri-St. Louis where he holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in economics and finance, Johnson is Darton’s economics spokesperson.
In addition to his teaching role, he often contributes to media and community groups as a resource to local, regional, and national economic trends. Johnson currently serves on three local boards — the Albany-Dougherty Planning Commission, the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce Small Business Resource Commission, and Girls Inc. He is also a past board member of the Albany-Dougherty Economic Development Commission, where he previously served as co-chairman of the Albany-Dougherty Economic Development Commission’s Retention subcommittee.
In 2009, he was recognized as one of the Top 40 under 40 in Southwest Georgia and is also a 2012 alumnus of the Congressional Black Caucus Political Training and Leadership Bootcamp.