The Bartow County School Board is guaranteed to have at least one new face among its ranks come January.
Angie Cornett and David Palmer are vying for their start on the school board as they seek in the Republican primary the seat that Matt Shultz will leave in December. The winner in Tuesday's race will be poised to take the seat as no Democrats qualified for the position.
Cornett has worked as a court reporter for 17 years and has owned her own business since 2000. Her involvement with the school system has included serving as a mentor at Cass Middle School through the Cartersville-Bartow County Chamber of Commerce's mentoring program, volunteering as a Science Olympiad team coach at Kingston Elementary, sitting on Kingston's school council for four years and being a member of Kingston's and Bartow County Schools' Southern Association of Colleges and Schools accreditation committees.
"Being a mentor in the middle school ... I've just found that there's so many different levels of kids," she said. "My children are fortunate to have two really good parents that are involved in their lives, but a lot of kids are not. And I have found that most kids need a really good support system in their life, and so I thought if I could help better educate all of the children and give them opportunities that not just the fortunate kids get, but all children in Bartow County, that's kind of what led me [to run]."
Cornett said she believes school system finances will be the top challenge board members will have to face in the next political term.
"The biggest challenge I think we're going to face is another difficult year with the budget," she said. "As a conservative person and as a business owner, I feel like I have the experience to look closely and scrutinize a budget. I also feel like I need to take the advice of the current board members, because they're more familiar with the current board members, and also rely on [Superintendent John] Harper and his staff on the budget.
"But at the same time, I would like to see where money is being spent and see -- if it gets to a point to where we do have to cut the budget some -- my main goal is [to determine] where we could cut the budget that would have the least impact on our student instruction and their learning period," Cornett added.
Palmer works as a nurse manager and has been actively involved in the Civil Air Patrol, a volunteer branch of the Air Force, including its programs focused on debt reduction and teaching students about the dangers of drugs. He cites his political values as one of the reasons for pursuing the school board.
"I am a conservative, and I kind of feel like we need to make sure and keep conservatism in our school board," Palmer said. "That's probably one of the biggest reasons, but also to get involved and help our community. I feel that I would make a good contribution in terms of conservatism on the school board."
Like Cornett, Palmer said the main challenges he expects to face if elected to the board will stem from the economy.
"We're not sure when things are going to get easier or better," he said. "There's only five members on the board, so working together to come up with the best conservative choices for the benefit of our taxpayers is probably going to be challenging, especially during this economic time. There are some possible issues or problems that may be ongoing, such as the issues with the Cass [High] school and the delays."
Should he get the nod Tuesday, Palmer said he would draw from various facets of his background to address the district's fiscal issues and other challenges when his term begins next year. He holds a bachelor's degree in business administration and has worked in hospital accounting and in project management. He also has degrees in engineering and manufacturing management and previously worked as a plant manager; he also has a graduate degree in computer sciences.
"I have a fair amount of education, which gives me, along with the practical experience I have, a lot of resources to draw from," he said. "I have some practical experience in that regard, both the economic side of things, which would be the bookkeeping, that sort of thing, as an accountant working in a hospital, and the practical, hands-on-type involvement in the project management and plant manager-type things."
For more information on Palmer's campaign, visit palmervalues.com. Cornett's campaign website can be found at angiecornett.com.
In all, three Bartow County school board seats -- Posts 1, 2 and 3 -- are up for election in Tuesday's primary. All six candidates are running as Republicans; no Democrats qualified to be placed on the primary ballot.
In the other board races, incumbent Lamar Grizzle is being challenged by John Howard in the Post 1 race, while Post 2's ballot has Davis Nelson contending with current board member Roger Maier.