Republican candidates

Name: Randy Scamihorn (incumbent)

Party: Republican

Office running for: School Board Member, Post 1, Cobb County School District

Job: Past military career; previously career as a school teacher and school administrator for Cobb County. Currently School Board representative, Post 1, Cobb County

Previously held elected office: School Board Member, Post 1 since January 2013

Family: Married with two children and two grandchildren. Spouse – retired teacher, Cobb County School System. Daughter – currently middle school teacher Cobb County School System.

University’s name and degree: M.S. Central Michigan University, Major: General Administration; B.S. Indiana State University, Major: Electronics Engineering; Georgia Southern University, Technology Teacher Certification; Jacksonville State University, School Administration Certification.

Military service: U.S. Army 1970-1973, NCO, Avionics Technician; U.S. Air Force 1980-1996, Commissioned Officer

Residence: 2405 Owens Landing Way, Kennesaw, Georgia 30152

Where did you grow up?: Terre Haute, Indiana; Marianna, Florida; and Alameda, California

How long have you lived here?: Resident for 42 years

1. Why are you the most qualified candidate for the position?

Scamihorn, Randy.jpg

Randy Scamihorn

My extensive background and experience has enabled me to help improve many issues within our system, such as: Multiple pay raises, elimination of standardized tests where possible, lower teacher-student ratios, and improved educational resources (i.e. buildings, technology, teacher resources). Restored the 2% pay cut from 2010, 4% raise, another 8 to 12% raise, minimized and eliminated furlough days, selected new superintendent, co-authored an extensive revision of the employee appeal process, served two years as Board Chair and one year as Vice Chair, served one year on Governor’s Advisory Board.

2. What is the greatest long-term challenge facing the community in which you seek to represent?

What will be the new normal for education after the current pandemic has subsided? What is the best for each post, the school district and community as a whole? Currently, our academic success is top-notch with above-average test  scores compared nationally and statewide, which means we must retain our best-qualified teachers and attract new best qualified teachers.

3. What is your solution to that challenge?

It is imperative to work as a district-wide team in conjunction with the community to ensure best solutions are found to all issues. It is necessary for all employees to feel like and identify as part of the team, the Cobb County School District team. Currently, one method to solve challenges is for Cobb County School District to give appropriate flexibility for each school to do what’s best for their students and their local community. Furthermore, we must continue to employ the best qualified team members at the district level to support the given autonomy at the school level.

Democratic candidates

Name: Lynn Lafferty

Party: Democrat

Office running for: CCSD Board of Ed. Post 1

Job: Ph.D student and former educator, mom of two boys

Previously held elected office: None

Family: Husband, Phillip. 2 sons, Liam (11) and Maddox (2)

University's name and degree: Concord University, Athens WV – Bachelor of Science Early Childhood Special Education, Bachelor of Science Interdisciplinary Studies; Walden University, Minneapolis, MN – Master of Science in Curriculum, Instruction, Assessment; In progress: Ph.d in Early Childhood Special Education

Military service: None

Residence: Kennesaw

Where did you grow up?: Southern West Virginia

How long have you lived here?: We moved to Cobb in 2005. We moved to our present address in May 2015.

1. Why are you the most qualified candidate for the position?

Lynn Lafferty.jpg

Lynn Lafferty

My entire career was spent in education. I worked in CCSD from 2005-2019, so I know the weak areas that need to be addressed. I was in the classroom as recent as last school year, so I am not out of touch with the real issues that are happening in CCSD. Teachers and students need a voice that supports them, and I will be that voice. I will be present in CCSD events and in the schools so that I can see the problems and work to address them. Our goal is to produce knowledgeable, contributing, and productive members of society. Cobb County, I vow to ensure that that is happening.

2. What is the greatest long-term challenge facing the community in which you seek to represent?

Student health and well-being. (Mental health, bullying, dress-code, institutionally added and unnecessary testing practices, etc.). Unnecessary testing adds stressors that are detrimental to student well-being.

3. What is your solution to that challenge?

There are many solutions that affect our students and teachers. We need to implement effective practices that address their social and emotional well-being. In my position as a board member, the solution is to be active and present in decision making so that I can represent the students. While I support academics, relationship building is crucial for student success. By seeking alternative solutions to suspensions and expulsions, we can reduce the School to Prison Pipeline epidemic. As a board member, I will investigate CCSD hiring practices for administrators and teachers to ensure that we have the BEST we can offer. The nepotistic practice of hiring unqualified individuals, personal friends, and neighbors must stop because, in the end, our students are the ones who suffer.

Name: Dr. Vickie H. Williams-Benson

Party: Democratic

Office running for: Cobb County School Board Post 1

Job: Middle School STEM Teacher

Previously held elected office: Charter School Governance Counsel at Fulton County Schools

Family: I am married to Lee Earnest Benson; I have one daughter, Nikeyta, a graduate of Tennessee State University and two grandsons: Landon, an elementary student in CCSD, and 8-month-old Chase.

University's name and degree: I graduated from Alabama State University where I received multiple degrees; Bachelor of Science in Biology, Master of Education in Biology Education, Master of Education in Educational Administration P-12 and an Education Specialist in Educational Administration P-12. I received my doctorate from Argosy University Atlanta in Educational Leadership K-12. I am also a graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham where I received academic training and a certificate in Medical Assistants (Clinical and Office Administration).

Military service: N/A

Residence: Acworth

Where did you grow up?: Tuskegee, Alabama

How long have you lived here?: 7 years

1. Why are you the most qualified candidate for the position?

Vickie Benson

Vickie Benson

I am the most qualified candidate for the position because I have 23 years of experience of teaching and leadership in the field of education. My love for education comes from a family of educators who supports the well-being and excellence of children. I am well versed in academic counseling, coaching, mentoring, curriculum development, data analysis, grant writing, and professional development. I am a data driven leader who focuses on student success, student transitioning from all grade levels with mastery achievement, and student's well-being; socially, emotionally, and physically. My desire is to see students graduate from college and/or pursue their own business. On the other hand, in being the most qualified candidate, I have superior research skills to implement effective programs with proven leadership abilities to drive school improvement for student learning, teacher effectiveness, and instructional practices.

2. What is the greatest long-term challenge facing the community in which you seek to represent?

Talking with parents, teachers, and the community, the greatest long-term challenge facing the community are student bullying, racial bias, and disparities among our minority students. These challenges have been identified as a serious problem according to the recent lawsuit and complaints filed by parents and community groups. However, I do not see this as a long-term challenge. I see this as a short-term challenge that will be addressed and quickly resolved with open communication and dialogue.

3. What is your solution to that challenge?

The solution is to provide sensitive training, yearly professional development, increase diversity hiring of faculty and staff for each school, and written clear and precise policies that reflect education diversity and culture acceptance. We must be able put aside our intolerance of dislikes to understand culture differences and to embrace the difference that will impact change within the school district and the community. I am looking forward to “Bridging A Multicultural Community Through Education Diversity and Cultural Acceptance” while focusing on Equity, Equality, and No Barriers for all children in the Cobb County School District. I believe that leadership support is vital, and leaders must be able to recognize the need for promoting health awareness, teacher equity as a strategy for teacher effectiveness, and student equity with opportunities to achieve academically.

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