Sipe, Miller win Bibb BOE seats

acastillo@macon.comNovember 6, 2012 

An incumbent Democrat won re-election to the Bibb County school board Tuesday, and a Republican was elected to replace a term-limited member of the board.

Republican Lester Miller will replace outgoing Bibb County school board member Susan Middleton in the District 4 seat, defeating Democratic challenger Dominique Johnson. Miller received 6,708 votes, while Johnson garnered 4,623 votes.

Meanwhile, Democratic incumbent Susan Sipe will represent the Bibb County school board’s District 3 for a second term. Sipe received 5,444 votes to Angela Freeman’s 4,310 votes, according to unofficial results.

Sipe said communicating with voters about her work on the board helped her win the race.

“I just want to say thank you to all the voters that have given me the opportunity to continue my work on the board,” she said Tuesday night. “There is still a lot of work left to be done.”

Now, Sipe looks forward to working with the new and current board members in January and plans to focus on safety and accountability in the school system.

Freeman could not be reached Tuesday night.

In District 4, Miller said he looks forward to meeting other new board members and taking part in training for the position.

“I’m excited about it,” Miller said. “I hate that (I’ve) got to wait ’til January to get started.”

Miller, who considers school safety and discipline his top priorities, said connecting with the people in his district helped him win.

“I think that’s what put me over the edge,” he said.

Johnson thanked God, his family and the team that helped him on his first run for office. He also thanked Miller for running a clean race.

“Today showed me there were ... people that believed in me,” he said. I appreciate their votes.”

Johnson said he plans to be involved in the community despite the loss. While he said he may not pursue political office again, being a school board candidate helped him understand the process better.

Ultimately, the community needs to work together to help Bibb County’s students, not get caught up in politics, he said.

“At the end of the day, I’m willing to work with anybody for our education system,” he said.

Besides Miller, the board will get two other new board members who won their primary races earlier this year but did not face opposition Tuesday. Thelma Dillard will replace Tommy Barnes, and Jason Downey succeeds Gary Bechtel. Both Barnes and Bechtel are term-limited.

To contact writer Andrea Castillo, call 744-4331.

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