Atlanta voters returned to the polls on Dec. 5 and overwhelmingly elected Alfred “Shivy” Brooks for the final seat up for grabs on the Atlanta Board of Education, which oversees Atlanta Public Schools (APS).

Turnout was very low for the runoff, with less than 4% of eligible voters weighing in on the election.

Here's what some Atlanta voters had to say about the election:

Jesse Harris, Grant Park, government employee

Why he voted: Number one, civic duty. I wanted to make sure my voice was heard. Second, I wanted to make sure I have a say with where my taxes go. 

Who he voted for: The one that stood out to me was Brooks [for] a new approach. I’ve heard the candidates speak at forums and how they’ve addressed concerns in the school district. I think the incumbent wasn’t able to address concerns, and I think we need a different approach. My big concern is reading comprehension and reading levels [falling below targets]. 

Cole Smith, city of Atlanta transportation planner 

Why he voted: It’s important to vote, no matter what election it is. 

Who he voted for: The most important issue to me is how Atlanta Public Schools use their existing resources for city planning and growth management. There’s future growth in the whole area, so we need to make sure that the school board is considering that and is partnering with the city for that. I think [Tamara Jones] spoke to that, and that’s why I voted for her. 

Rebecca Reese, 36, Grant Park, digital consultant

Who she voted for: I’m supporting Shivy in this runoff. I think we need a change in our system,s and I believe an active teacher is the way to do that on the school board. 

I think Georgia is very low [as far as] our school system in the nation. I think we need someone on the school board who can relate to children, and that’s Shivy.

Brooks made history as the first active teacher to be elected to the Atlanta School Board in APS' 150-year history. An economics and government teacher at Clayton County’s Charles Drew High School, he emphasized the importance of having hands-on experience in dealing with APS students—especially since the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

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