Heather Tell Announces Candidacy For Decatur District 2 School Board Seat

Heather Tell’s campaign sent out this announcement…

On Friday, August 11th, Decatur resident Heather Tell announced her candidacy for the City Schools of Decatur (CSD) Board of Education. She’ll be campaigning for the District 2 seat currently held by Bernadette Seals, who is leaving the board after serving with distinction since 2007.

Heather lives in Oakhurst with her husband, Joe, and two daughters, who currently attend CSD at the 4/5 Academy at Fifth Avenue and Renfroe Middle School. She’s served the Decatur community and schools since moving to the neighborhood 15 years ago, volunteering thousands of hours in the community and classroom. During her terms on the Oakhurst Elementary and the F.AVE School Leadership Teams (SLTs), she worked on elementary school redistricting efforts, reviewed school budgets, crafted school improvement plans, and interviewed many new teachers and staff to support CSD’s growth. Heather currently serves as chairperson of F.AVE’s SLT.

“I have a track record of getting things done in our community,” Heather says. “I bring people together and build consensus around issues to move projects forward. Through my years of service in the schools, I’ve supported our teachers and staff to make our schools the best they can be. I take this responsibility very seriously and feel passionately about helping our great schools become even better. My goals for CSD include:

• Enabling every child to reach his or her highest potential, regardless of ability;
• Providing for all students an equitable and challenging education;
• Collaborating with city leadership to understand the impact of development and possible annexation on the schools, and to proactively identify innovative partnerships within the community;
• Emphasizing fiscal responsibility as we support the rapid growth of our student population;
• Encouraging the integration of Science, Technology, Engineering, Math (STEM) into the curriculum;
• Creating well rounded students through foreign language, art, music, and athletic education.”

Heather is a dedicated community advocate. She’s initiated several community service projects to improve pedestrian safety including: creating a new pedestrian path from Olympic Pl to Mead Rd, improving sidewalks and crosswalks, and improving city parks adjacent to schools and school grounds at Oakhurst and F.AVE. As Georgia Safe Routes to School representative for Oakhurst Elementary from 2011-2015, she led the school to win the Metro Atlanta Partner of the Year Award in 2015.

“My grassroots involvement in community initiatives has allowed me to develop lasting relationships with many city and CSD leaders,” Heather says. “These meaningful relationships will enable me to foster trust and goodwill with the decision makers in our community to help bring out the best in our schools and students.”

Heather has a BS in Civil Engineering and an MS in Environmental Engineering from Northwestern University and professional experience in engineering, information technology, and real estate. She is currently a Realtor and top-producing agent at Atlanta Intown Real Estate Services, where she has worked since 2007.

“My professional skills and experience allow me to provide a technical perspective and analytical approach to support planning and responsible expansion of our schools,” Heather points out. “In my career, I leverage effective project management, communication, and negotiation skills. I’ve also hired and managed teams of people, and always maintain high expectations for achievement and performance. Moreover, my real estate experience is focused on the City of Decatur and nearby neighborhoods. This gives me great insight into our city’s growth trends which ultimately affect and impact our schools. My professional skills will be a great asset to CSD in setting and achieving our goals.”

For more information, check out Heather’s website at: ElectHeatherTell.org, and her Elect Heather Tell Facebook page.

Brian Smith Releases Statement After Being Elected to City Commission

Brian Smith

Commissioner-Elect Brian Smith sent in this note after his victory in last night’s Decatur City Commission race…

As we conclude this election season, the most encouraging thing is the number of candidates who were willing to come forward with ideas about how make Decatur even better.   Running for public office is a challenging process, and everyone who ran deserves our thanks for putting themselves and their ideas out there for the public to consider.    If I have learned anything as a candidate it is that politics is  the ultimate team sport, and I want to thank everyone who worked so hard behind their candidate of choice this year.   The single best asset of Decatur is our citizens:  it’s the kind of community where people make their voices heard and raise their hands to help solve problems, and that is frankly a lot more unusual in America these days than it should be.   We are lucky to call this town our home.

Going forward, my goal is to continue the dialogue we began in this campaign around Decatur’s challenges.   Addressing our school facilities’ needs, keeping taxes low on our seniors, building an even more diverse community and supporting effective law enforcement policies are complicated issues.  I need input from my fellow citizens to do it well, and I hope that everyone in our community will continue to keep the ideas we developed this campaign front and center of this discussion.

Decatur Candidates Forum Video Now Online

If you missed Sunday’s Decatur Candidates Forum this past Sunday in Decatur Heights, moderated by freelance writer and AJC contributor Bill Banks, it has now been graciously provided for your viewing online!

Part 1 of 9 is above.  You can watch parts 2-9 over on YouTube.

Decatur Candidates Forum in Decatur Heights This Sunday

The good folks in Decatur Heights have again done the city a public service and set up a public forum for all City Commission and School Board candidates.  This year the event will take place Sunday, October 25th from 3-5p at its usual location at The Church at Decatur.  More details below!

candidates forum announcement

More … important links to information:

  1. November 3 ballot
  2. City Schools of Decatur Bond Referendum
  3. HB597 Dekalb Ethics Board Bill

UPDATED: Full List of Qualifying Candidates for Decatur City Commission/School Board

decatur candidate list

UPDATE: Yeah, so qualifying is actually still open until Wednesday afternoon.  My bad.  Up above is the updated list with additions highlighted in yellow.  Guess we’ll receive a final one of these tomorrow.


Decaturish reminds us that qualifying just closed OPENED! for the November election.  So here’s the full CURRENT! list of candidates by district, courtesy of the city.

Looks like every open seat will have two contenders and Scott Drake will have an opponent for his District 1 seat.  We’re still waiting for formal announcements from three of these candidates and will post them once if/when we receive them.

Decatur Election Qualifying Period Begins August 31st


We noted this yesterday, but this afternoon Decatur City Manager Peggy Merriss sent along this note confirming the qualifying period for Decatur commission and school board elections this fall.

Just want to confirm that qualifying for election to the City of Decatur City Commission and the Board of Education of the City Schools of Decatur  will start on Monday, August 31, 2015 beginning at 8:30am and continuing during normal business hours to Wednesday, September 2, 2015 at 4:30pm.

The Board of Education and the City Commission are made up of 5 members: 1 member at-large; 2 members from District 1 (north); and, 2 members from District 2 (south).  The Board of Education will be holding elections for members from District 1 and District 2.  The City Commission will be holding elections for Commissioners from the At-Large District; District 1 and District 2.

In a separate release, the city confirmed that all candidates can file notice of candidacy at Decatur City Hall.

UPDATED: Decatur School Board Race Verified, Despite “Redistricting Error”

UPDATE: Decaturish has obtained internal emails from Peggy Merriss, Marc Wisniewski and the Director of DeKalb County Registration & Elections H. Maxine Daniels regarding this redistricting error.

Back on Election Day, you may recall a conversation among commenters here about how they did not see the contested School Board race on their ballot, though they knew they were residents of District 1.

Well, it turns out it wasn’t an isolated incident or just a mistaken voter sounding off.

The DeKalb County Board of Registration and Elections has sent a letter to Decatur City Clerk Janet Kindelberger admitting that they failed to incorporate changes to the district boundaries submitted by the city back in August.  As such, “the boundary change affected a small portion of district combo 687 ofthe Ponce de Leon precinct.”

DeKalb stated that their internal analysis concluded that 10 voters were given the wrong ballot.  Since the race was decided by 75 votes, DeKalb determined the error would not affect the outcome of the race.  You can read the full letter HERE.

A email sent to DM and Decaturish by Mark Arnold’s Campaign Manager, Alvin McNeely, stated that though the Arnold campaign didn’t agree with the findings that only 10 voters were affected, since it’s impossible to determine “how many other people didn’t make it to the polls because they relied on the incorrect records”, the campaign did not plan to challenge the results.

You can read Mr. McNeely’s full letter to us after the jump.

In order to “minimize the chance that such an incident occurs again” DeKalb has requested that Decatur “that future notifications of district changes be made on a more formal basis, including a full-size map in addition to any PDF version and a cover letter summarizing the changes being conveyed by the revised map. Secondly, upon completion of our changes, We will deliver to you a revised street file for your documentation and review for accuracy prior to any subsequent elections.”

Continue reading “UPDATED: Decatur School Board Race Verified, Despite “Redistricting Error””