Next time Cobb Schools Superintendent Chris Ragsdale’s contract is up for renewal, would you retain him? That’s one of the many questions the two candidates running in the May 24 Republican primary to succeed outgoing Cobb school board member Dr. Jaha Howard were asked during a forum hosted at the Cobb GOP headquarters Monday evening.
The candidates include Stephen George Jr., 61, a community crisis counselor with the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities. George holds degrees from Kennesaw State University and is a veteran of the U.S. Army. He and his wife, Cindy, have two adult children.
The other Republican is Matthew “Anthony” Sears, 43, a graduate of Georgia Southern University who works at Yard House at The Battery Atlanta. He and his wife Reiko Sears, have children who attend King Springs Elementary.
There are also two Democrats running in the primary: preschool teacher Becky Sayler, a parent of CCSD students and Jaha Howard’s chosen successor; and Andres Sandate, a financial technology executive who has children at Kings Springs Elementary.
“Well, I’m going to be honest and say I don’t agree with everything Chris Ragsdale has done as a superintendent,” Sears said, adding “I do think he has tried to make things better.”
“I feel like he’s being pulled in different directions, and he’s trying to play the middle on a lot of the issues in trying to please everybody, but at the same time he’s just making everybody angry. I believe that he has done somewhat of a good job, I do. I personally do. Our graduation rate, while not great, is one of the highest in the nation. We do have many issues when it comes to transient students, especially in Post 2.”
While such things need improvement, Ragsdale does bring the board a fiscally responsible budget, he said.
“I would keep him for right now,” Sears said.
“Adequate” is the way George described Ragsdale’s job performance.
“Before I fire someone I always let them know that there’s an issue to give them an opportunity to change their behavior or to raise their game,” George said. “Having said that, I would put him on notice that these are some new performance indicators that will be looked at going forward, and to be aware at the next contract negotiation time. I believe that’s fair. Having said that, I don’t think he’s done a super great job. I don’t think he’s done a super bad job. I think he’s been adequate. Having said that, I believe the children deserve more than adequate.”
Debbie Fisher, a Cobb GOP vice chair, asked the candidates if they would support writing a policy that prohibits transgender students who were born as biological males from playing women’s sports.
George was first to answer.
“Would I support a policy that would refrain and ban a biological male from competing against biological females in sports activities at the high school level? I would support that. Having said that, I’m not really sure whether it’s really that big of an issue here in Cobb County,” he said.
George said he needed “more case-by-case scenario information” to decide whether there was a need for such a policy.
“I think it’s important to note oftentimes public administrators and elected officials, they tend to go toward kneejerk reactions thinking that there are simple solutions to complex questions, and the reality is there are no simple solutions to complex questions or issues. That’s the problem. Sometimes the best thing to do is don’t do anything at all. Sometimes it will go away by itself.”
“That’s going to come to Cobb eventually, so we can’t just ignore it. That’s going to be something that we’re going to have to deal with and we can look at cases all over the nation where this is happening. Yeah, I would say I’m going to support it and I would push that through,” he said.
Yet whether either Republican gets a chance to make that decision is very much a question given how blue the Post 2 district is.
Around Town asked Matt Yarbrough, a Cobb Democratic Committee vice chair, what the Biden/Trump voter split was under the new Post 2 map.
Yarbrough said he didn’t have that data point yet mainly because under the new lines, the new post has half a dozen precincts divided in half.
“… but our current estimate has it around 68% or 69% for Biden. As a good reference point, the Republicans did not carry a single election precinct in that district in 2020, and they only managed to narrowly carry one of its 15 or so precincts in 2018. It’s a very blue district.”
With the numbers favoring the Dems for the seat, does Cobb GOP Chair Salleigh Grubbs think Republicans have a chance?
“I think whoever wins in the primary would have a very good chance, because there are a lot of younger families in that area that are really tired of how things are going with the liberal indoctrination, the CRT is a big issue. … I don’t know the numbers, but I would say there are a lot of people that are disillusioned. They want opportunity and they see the Republican Party is standing behind people that provide opportunity.”
Monday’s debate is posted on the Cobb GOP’s Facebook page.
TASTE OF MARIETTA: Tens of thousands descended on Marietta Square over the weekend to enjoy the return of Taste of Marietta, chowing down and imbibing the best the Gem City has to offer. But which dishes and drinks were judged to be the best of the best? We’ve got you covered with the list of winners below. Vendors were allowed to select up to two categories to enter. Tastiest Taste is awarded to the judges’ favorite dish across all categories.
Tastiest Beverage:♦ The Freakin Incan — Cha Cha Morada
Dangerously Delicious Dessert:♦ The Freakin Incan — Alfajores
The Big Chicken: ♦ Copeland’s — Blackened Bayou Chicken
Best Seafood Dish:♦ Hamp & Harry’s — Ahi Tuna Tostada
Finger Lickin’ Good:♦ PARLAY Savory Saloon — Creamed Collard Greens
Most Unique:♦ Silla Del Toro — Bacon Wrapped Dates
Best International Cuisine:♦ JADA’s Caribbean Cuisine — Oxtails
Best Comfort Food:♦ Dave Poe’s BBQ — Macaroni & Cheese
Blazin’ BBQ:♦ Dave Poe’s BBQ — Pulled Pork
Tastiest Taste:♦ Dave Poe’s BBQ — Macaroni & Cheese
So, who judged these dishes, anyway?
Well, there was Nancy Boderman, who won an online auction fundraiser benefiting the Strand Theatre for the privilege of judging, and Nikka Shae, founder of a lifestyle brand. There was also Bill Nowicki, who hosts the Marietta Stories Podcast, and Blake Eason, a news anchor at Columbus station WRBL. Finally, there was Marietta Councilwoman Cheryl Richardson, and Skye Estroff, a media personality and “food expert” for TV and radio programs.
ENDORSEMENTS: After bloodying his knuckles — and taking a few bruises himself — against challenger David Perdue Sunday night, Gov. Brian Kemp may have needed a pick-me-up. Monday, he rolled out his endorsement from the National Rifle Association.
“Brian Kemp has been a steadfast supporter of our constitutional right to keep and bear arms for nearly two decades,” said Jason Ouimet, chairman of the NRA’s Political Victory Fund.
“Governor Kemp has never wavered in the fight to expand and protect the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Georgians. The NRA is proud to endorse Governor Brian Kemp and encourages all NRA members, gun owners, hunters and sportsmen to vote for Brian Kemp in the upcoming Republican Primary election.”
Kemp just this month signed Georgia’s permitless carry bill, which allows people to carry a concealed handgun in public without a state permit.
“Whether it was when we took action during the pandemic to ensure gun owners wouldn’t lose their license as a result of government red tape, or this year when myself and members of the General Assembly joined together to fulfill my promise to make Constitutional Carry the law of the land in our state, the NRA stood with us every step of the way,” said Kemp.
“As Georgia’s governor, I’ve been grateful for their support and partnership, and as a gun-owner and lifelong member, I’m proud to receive their endorsement as we continue to fight every day for the Constitutional rights of all Georgians.”