Jones wins school board seat in Decatur’s only contested election
Lewis Jones will take the District 1, Post A seat on the Decatur School Board now held by Marc Wisniewski, the board chairman, who decided not to seek re-election.
With all precincts reporting, Jones received 52.48 percent of the vote to edge Mark Arnold. Jones got 793 votes, Arnold 718.
Jones was not immediately available for comment Tuesday night.
Arnold said he was disappointed in the results but commended Jones on his win. Arnold said he had no regrets about his campaign, which focused on planned growth for the system.
“I cannot sit here at this point and say I wish we had done more canvassing or more post card mailing,” he said. “I’m proud of the issues we raised.”
The other city elections were uncontested.
Annie P. Caiola, a lawyer, will be the other new face on the five-member school board. She was elected to the at-large seat now held by Valarie Wilson, who didn’t run again. Bernadette Seals, the current school board vice chair, is back for another four years in District 2, Post A.
For the city commission, Fred Boykin was automatically re-elected for District 1, Post A, and Patti Garrett for District 2, Post A.
Jones, an environmental lawyer at King & Spalding, has five children between the ages of 8 and 16 in Decatur schools and serves as chair of the School Leadership Team at Renfroe Middle School. The Harvard Law grad taught ninth grade math as a member of the Mississippi Teacher Corps after graduation.
Jones ran on a platform promoting music, arts and athletic education and the development of interpersonal skills. He stated his top three goals were to develop a master growth plan to keep taxes low and schools diverse, divert additional resources to School Leadership Teams, and prepare for leadership transitions within the school system.
Arnold’s two daughters attend Renfroe Middle School, where he serves on the school leadership team. He is a partner and co-founder of Red Clay Capital Holdings and has worked with several financial management groups over the past 25 years.
Arnold sees rising school enrollment as one of the main challenges facing the school district and ran on his experience managing difficult financial situations. Arnold also campaigned to improve communications between the school board and city government and community members. He said he wanted to increase female participation in science, technology, engineering and math-related classes.
Arnold said he hopes Jones the best.
“The issues I highlighted are still there and I very much hope he does a good job since I have kids in the schools,” he said. “They really have to put their heads around how they manage growth.”