District 1 Board of Education member Ann Crow is not running for re-election, but this week, voters had a chance to hear from both of her potential replacements.
On Tuesday, candidates Mark Weiss and Wes McCall took part in a debate hosted by the Forsyth County Republican Party at the Forsyth County Administration Building. Forsyth GOP Chairman Patrick Bell moderated the debate.
Voters living in the district will decide the next school board member on May 22. Advance voting for the race is open.
In addition to answering questions from Bell and the other candidate, both candidates were given opportunities for opening and closing statements.
Weiss, a senior engineer with VeriFone who ran for the seat in 2014, said he was “applying” for the board position.
“I’m not running for school board, I’m applying for the job to be District 1’s representative of the school board to represent the students’ education and our tax dollars,” Weiss said.
McCall said he had served in a variety of roles since his son began kindergarten at Sawnee Elementary School in 2010, including three years on the PTA and currently as a member of Liberty Middle School’s school council.
“I started to be an advocate for my son and quickly moved to being an advocate for our students,” he said. “I visited the classroom twice a week and helped with math, reading, making copies and helping the classroom centers.”
Both candidates were asked to give their thoughts on local school funding, including SPLOST (special purpose local option sales tax) funds and a potential $300 million bond that will also be decided by voters on May 22.
McCall, who serves as deputy director of the Alpharetta Department of Public Safety, said he appreciated the state funding quality basic education in the state. He said he would rather have SPLOST than alternatives.
“The [Quality Basic Education Act] was finally funded this time … The last time that it was … [fully] funded was 2003 and over those 15 years, the county has had to compensate for the difference. It’s probably about $166 million they spent over those years,” McCall said. “I support SPLOST because it is a consumer tax. I’d rather have a consumer tax than property taxes go up.”
Weiss said he was also pleased with QBE being funded, but was skeptical of the proposed bond and special taxes.
“I understand we need a bond. We need a bond to pay for schools, but about $80 million of this bond is for what we call ‘miscellaneous,’” Weiss said. “Our SPLOST is based on how much our economic growth is. We’re going to have another downturn. What’s going to happen with the downturn when the SPLOST money starts running out?”