11/03/04 — Gurley defeats Hackett

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Gurley defeats Hackett

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on November 3, 2004 2:04 PM

School board Chairman Pete Gurley won his bid for re-election with 60 percent of the votes on Tuesday. Two other board members were also re-elected but had no opposition.

In the race for the at-large seat on the board, 29,682 votes were cast. Gurley received 17,943, his opponent Joseph Hackett received 11,673, and the other 66 were write-ins.

Thelma Smith, representing District 3, received 3,512 votes, and Shirley Sims, representing District 2, had 2,811.

There were also 18 write-in votes in Mrs. Smith's district and nine write-in votes counted among Ms. Sims' constituents.

Gurley has been on the school board for eight years, twice as its chairman. He said this morning that he was elated over the outcome of the election.

"The results were certainly much greater than what I had expected," he said. "I feel like I ran the campaign on a positive note and on the real issues."

He said he feels the board still has some unfinished business and the vote of support will give him a chance to continue working on it.

In addition to improving academic programs in the school system, he said, there are three areas he especially wants to concentrate on.

"Number one is facilities," he said. "That's the most pressing need right now."

He said county commissioners have a study under way that will reveal some of the needs in the county versus what can be funded.

"We've got growing populations," he said. "Some areas of that we have got to face."

Second is the teacher's supplemental pay, which Gurley said he would continue to work to increase.

The third he called a more personal goal.

"I want us to continue to close the achievement gap between our African American students and our white students," he said. "We have made great strides, but we can't be satisfied until that gap is zero."

Gurley said he appreciated all the support and encouragement he received during the election. He said he has been pleased with the makeup of the school board and is glad it will continue intact.

He also said despite some perceptions, the rapport between the school board and the county commissioners has been positive.

"For the most part, they have supported us, I feel," he said. "For the big-ticket items, we have sat down and compromised."