Alan Levine, 46, qualified to run for the seat Tuesday. Levine and his wife, Dawn, are both attorneys at Marietta-based Lyle & Levine, and his son, Andrew, is a rising freshman at Marietta High School.
“We need people who are passionate about education on the school board, people who are thinking about things from the perspective of students,” he said. “As a former teacher, I also know what it’s like to be in the classroom day in and day out. I want to be a conduit for the community and interested parties.”
Qualifying opened Monday and runs through noon today. So far, Levine is the only candidate in the race. The Ward 1 seat, which includes the south-central portion of the city, was vacated by Bittner in April when he accepted a job out of state.
Bittner’s predecessor, Logan Weber, also left before the end of his term, accepting an out-of-state job in 2012. Bittner won a special election to replace Weber, then won a full term in 2013, only to leave earlier this year. Marietta Board of Education Chairman Randy Weiner said he doesn’t necessarily see the early exits as a trend.
“The thing with Brett and Logan leaving was strictly due to a career move. I’m not sure how that has anything to do with the ward itself,” he said. “In general, I do see things getting more stable as you move from renter to owner-occupied housing.”
Marietta’s school board districts coincide with its City Council districts. Stuart Fleming represents the Ward 1 area on the Marietta City Council.
He said it is an area that tends to draw younger people, which could be part of why two representatives in a row left short of their four-year terms.
“You have a lot of new families and younger families that are concerned about the community they live in,” Fleming said. “You’d like to think that everyone who throws their name in the hat can fulfill their full term, but sometimes you can’t see around the corner.”
He also said he looks forward to working with whoever wins the seat, and spoke highly of Levine.
“I know he’s an upstanding and good individual. He brings fresh ideas and a new perspective,” Fleming said. “I like Alan and think he’s a great guy.”
Both Fleming and Weiner said having multiple candidates is always a good thing because it gives voters a choice.
Park Street Elementary School is the only school in the ward. Levine said it’s important to connect with local schools as a board members.
“I plan to meet the administrators, parents, teachers and students at Park Street,” Levine said. “I want to find out what it is they’re concerned about, what’s going right, what their issues are and what they want to improve. I’ll have an open-door policy so people can reach me and so they know that if they’ve got a problem they’ve got an open ear.”
Levine’s family moved to Marietta from Smyrna when his son was in the fourth grade so he could attend the Marietta Center for Advanced Academics. Levine is a member of the Marietta Historic Preservation Commission, but this is his first time running for office.
Levine said he spent nine years as a teacher before starting his legal career. He mostly taught at private schools, including Atlanta International School and a school for Native Americans in New Mexico.
He said he’d push to give public school teachers more of the freedoms private school teachers enjoy.
“Hire good people and trust them to do the job,” he said. “Don’t micromanage.”
If no one else qualifies to run, Levine will fill the rest of the term, which runs through Dec. 31, 2018. If at least one other person runs, the race will be decided Nov. 4.