Republican voters will choose between Larry Darnell and Brad Wheeler. In the July 31 vote, Wheeler led the three-person field with 3,398 votes (36%), followed by Darnell with 3,119 votes (32%). They beat a third first-time candidate, Heather Ryan of Acworth.
The runoff winner will face off against Bartlett, a Democrat, on Nov. 6 to represent west central Cobb, which includes Harrison, Hillgrove and McEachern high schools.
Darnell said he supports the balanced calendar, “or some version of it,” which includes multiple breaks throughout the school year.
“The few people who have commented to me about why I’m running are asking about the calendar,” he said. “I’ve had more questions about the calendar than I have anything. I haven’t talked to anyone who specifically wants the traditional.”
Wheeler said he’s heard the most concerns about Teach For America.
“I’m definitely opposed to it,” he said. “It’s a hot-button issue for me. I don’t think that’s the kind of person we want teaching in our schools. It really sends the wrong message to our teachers.”
Both said they would support a SPLOST IV if it were based on the school system’s needs.
“I want to make sure that anything on the SPLOST, it needs to be specific to needs and not wants,” Darnell said. “I was glad to see the initial wish list … it’s finally addressing some of the older schools and not necessarily in my district.”
Darnell said board members should support the SPLOST to better the county, not their post.
Wheeler said a SPLOST would benefit the community.
“Education is very important, and I still hear that (constituents) want good schools,” he said
Since qualifying in late May, both have been out meeting their constituents.
Wheeler said it’s been a pleasure.
“It’s been nice getting to meet people,” he said. “There’s a lot of good people out there in this west Cobb area.”
Last weekend, he had supporters from Harrison, Hillgrove and McEachern talking to residents about why he is the best candidate for the west central Cobb seat.
“I can’t say enough about them because one person can’t do this, you have to have people help, and the people helping me, they’re unbelievable,” Wheeler said.
Darnell, who said he’s been working a little bit harder on the trail since learning that there was a runoff, said he’s sent out several emails, touched base with people on Facebook and passed out campaign cards.
“I’m out of yard signs, but I put out 100,” he said. “I’m just aggressively working, and I think I’m following on the coat-tails of (Wheeler) because everywhere I go, there he is. I think we’re going neck and neck.”
Darnell has raised about $1,400 since announcing his candidacy in May and around $300 since the primary. Wheeler has raised $1,470 since July 31 and $3,420 overall.
The winner of the runoff will be taking on Bartlett in November. She won her seat during the general election in 2008.
Bartlett said she has been “out there beating the bushes and working the trees” so far and meeting with different groups to remind constituents that her name will be on the ballot again this fall.
She said concerns from citizens seem to be anything from class size to Teach For America, but not the calendar.
“The calendar is not a priority for me because we face tremendous classroom challenges from classroom size to having certified teachers in the classrooms and adequate funding for the budget,” she said. “Education is under duress and teachers are under attack, and that’s my priority.”
Bartlett said the priorities have shifted since she was elected four years ago.
“In 2008, we were just starting the recession, so the impact financially was not known. As they say, the bucket of cotton was really full and overflowing,” she said. “But in today’s world, there is no money left to educate our kids.”
She declined to say which candidate she’d like to face in November, adding that she hadn’t met Wheeler or Darnell.
She has raised about $3,000 since starting her campaign for the 2012 election.
Early voting will continue through today between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. at the following locations:
- East Cobb Government Service Center, 4400 Lower Roswell Road, Marietta
- South Cobb Community Center, 620 Lions Club Drive, Mableton
- Northstar Church, 3413 Blue Springs Road, Kennesaw
- Boots Ward Recreation Center at Lost Mountain Park, 4845 Dallas Highway, Powder Springs
- Cobb Elections Main Office, 736 Whitlock Ave., Marietta
There will be no voting on Monday. All regular precinct polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday, and results will again be posted on the Georgia Secretary of State’s website at www.sos.ga.gov after the polls close.