Bittner was the sole candidate to run for the Ward 1 seat on the school board in a special election on July 31 after Logan Weber resigned from the post when he accepted an out-of-state job. The unexpired term is up in December 2013.
With his fiancée, Crystal Gross of Marietta; his mother, Sherry Bittner, who flew in from Dallas, Texas; and several friends sitting in the audience, Bittner was sworn in by Cobb Superior Court Judge-elect Greg Poole.
“It was pretty awesome,” Bittner, who serves as executive director of the Libertarian Party of Georgia, said after the ceremony. “This is something that doesn’t happen every day, and it was a pretty big deal for most of us. Right now we have three elected Libertarians in the state all serving in nonpartisan roles.”
Born and raised in Riverdale, Clayton County, 32-year-old Bittner studied economics at the University of Georgia. He is a partner in Forward Focus Media, a strategic web consulting firm with offices in Atlanta and Birmingham. He has previously served on the city’s Historic Board of Review and the Historic Preservation Commission.
The Libertarian Party of Georgia is a state affiliate of the national Libertarian Party.
“Politically we align as fiscally conservative, socially liberal, socially tolerant,” he said. “We would like to see government fit within the confines of the Constitution.”
Bittner said many Libertarians focus their energies on public education, “and Marietta provides a significant amount of choice, especially with the charter system.”
Some big decisions the school board is facing are the renewals of the education SPLOST and the district’s charter, he said.
“I hope I’m able to bring a little bit different perspective having the Libertarian tendencies and a Libertarian’s perspective to governance,” he said.
On Tuesday, State School Superintendent Dr. John Barge issued a press release opposing the constitutional amendment on charter schools voters will decide on the Nov. 6 ballot.
Bittner said he hasn’t yet decided how he will vote on that matter, nor has the Libertarian Party taken a position.
“As a school board member of a charter system, obviously I think the idea of choice is good, but I would have to look very in-depth at what the referendum is actually asking and the enabling legislation, what it would actually do before I would make a decision,” he said. “It was a surprise to me to see that Republicans are split on the issue, especially seeing the top education Republican with the state school superintendent coming out against the amendment that so many Republican legislators approve of and endorse.”
Also during Tuesday’s board meeting, Superintendent Dr. Emily Lembeck said the system had enrolled 147 more students than at this time last year for a count of 7,978.
Lembeck said it was too early to tell where the growth was coming from.
“We do know that we have more students opting for choice,” Lembeck said. “We still have a number on the waiting list, and some that wish to transfer. And of course while the economy remains unstable we have a lot of mobility, so I don’t know if more people have come to this area, and we also have a couple of new developments in the city as well, so I think it’s a variety of reasons. But all in all, I’m just really glad that they’re choosing to come to Marietta as we see by those families that wish to annex into the city to attend Dunleith.”