Darnell, 60, is the son of late Jack Darnell, who was a member of the Cobb County School Board for 12 years in the 1960s and 1970s.
“It was a whole different time when he was on the board,” said the general contractor, who has lived in Powder Springs for 35 years with his wife, Karen. “The board, from what I remember, it was a good group of guys who all worked well together. It was a tight-knit group that all had the same vision. Things went relatively smoothly.”
On district issues, Darnell said that he would vote against the proposed statewide charter schools amendment; that he is not “totally opposed” to the Teach For America concept; and that he favors an early August school start date. He also believes that maybe more information about the district’s academic status should be shared in public meetings.
“I believe the charter schools should be under the control of local school boards,” he said. “The state should not be involved.”
In regards to Teach For America, something the board has been talking about on and off since January, he doesn’t think it’s a bad program but said it’s not the best solution for Cobb right now.
“We have plenty of qualified teachers in our schools, and we have qualified teachers seeking employment,” he said.
Darnell is up against two other first-time Republican candidates, Heather Ryan and Brad Wheeler. The winner of the July 31 GOP primary for Cobb school board Post 7, in central west Cobb, will face incumbent Democrat Alison Bartlett on Nov. 6. Bartlett was first elected to the board in 2008.
Darnell is an Osborne High School graduate and said the current board is in such “disconnect” that he believed he had to run for the seat.
“It seems like the whole board is in it for themselves, a lot of bickering back and forth,” he said.
Darnell said he disagrees with Bartlett’s philosophies as a board member.
“Everything that’s done, students need to come first,” he said.
The retired military officer said he’s been out campaigning as often as he can and speaking to residents about his platform and what he can do to make the system better.
“I want to be the one to make it better,” he said. “I’m not attacking anybody. I won’t go down that road, but hopefully I’ll be the one running against Alison.”
Darnell also said fundraising hasn’t been too tough.
“I’ve just let it take its course,” he said. “I haven’t had the need to spend a lot.”
According to his June 30 campaign finance report, Darnell has raised $750 and has as much on hand.