West beats Brown in Bibb school board Post 8 battle

Wanda West moved one step closer to a seat on the Bibb County school board Tuesday.

The 57-year-old retired Twiggs County school superintendent beat out Bette-Lou Brown in the at-large, Post 8 race, 5,853 to 3,174.

West celebrated her Democratic primary win at the board of elections office with about 15 supporters.

“I’m excited. I’m real excited,” West said. “Whether Bette-Lou won or I won, we had great choices for the seat.”

Now, she’s gearing up for her next opponent, Republican challenger Alan Thiese. They’ll square off in November.

West said she spent about $6,000 during her campaign, strolling grocery store aisles, attending community events and talking to parents and students to get a sense of the school system’s dynamics.

She said she believes her work over the years resonated with voters.

“I served Bibb County 22 years as a solid contributor, and my experience in Twiggs to carry them from the bottom to the top met me again in the streets,” she said. “It’s your work that speaks for you.”

The at-large seat is being vacated by the board’s most senior member, Albert Abrams, who served a maximum of three terms.

West was eyeing the seat when she said community leaders approached her, asking her to run.

One of her goals, she said, is to make sure the school board and a new school superintendent work together for the good of students.

“One thing I know, having served as a teacher, curriculum director, superintendent and, hopefully, on the board ... I don’t care where you serve, there has to be a partnership,” she said. “I look forward to forging a partnership with the new superintendent, board, business community and parents.”

During her campaign, West emphasized improving academic performance and the knowledge base of Bibb’s teaching staff, improving school safety, creating a high-performance culture, improving parental involvement and improving programs for those students not bound for college.

Her opponent, Brown, raised about $9,000 in her campaign. She said earlier Tuesday evening that she was proud of her run for office.

“There was much more to it than I thought,” Brown said. “I feel good about it.”

Brown is now working on a grant with Middle Georgia RESA to teach history in public schools, she said.

West is a minister’s daughter who grew up in Macon’s Pleasant Hill neighborhood, and she is a product of the Bibb County school system.

She taught math at Redding Elementary in Lizella, became the Bibb County school system’s curriculum director and then director of staff development before serving as Twiggs superintendent for eight years.

West, who’s an education consultant, said she’s off to Dougherty County on Wednesday to give teachers a pep talk. After that, she’ll return to the campaign trail.

To contact writer Julie Hubbard, call 744-4331.