Brown earned 65.82 percent of the vote in the runoff after trailing McDaniel by nearly 5,000 votes in the November general election, which also included candidates Mark Riley, Tom Tidwell and Dave Walker. In the general race, McDaniel got 36.74 percent of the vote and Brown had 25.80 percent.
“It was intense,” Brown said of the elections. “I’ve never run for public office before. … But it was also exciting.”
Brown credits her election success to the connections she has made with others throughout the years as an involved parent, school volunteer and education advocate.
Brown and her husband Jim’s son Palmer is a senior at North Atlanta High School and their daughter Caroline is a 2010 graduate of the school and currently a senior at Davidson College in North Carolina.
“I’ve built relationships across the city and people know that I’m sincere, that I want to help and that I will do what I say,” Brown said. “I’ve been volunteering for 20 years now and while I didn’t realize that I’ve been running for school board all that time, I was. I think the relationships that I have built, not just in my own neighborhood but across the city, really paid off.”
With her new role on the school board, she said she looks forward to having a chance to make a difference in the lives of students across the entire school system.
“We need to refocus the board’s and the system’s energy on … every child and on giving every child a world-class education,” Brown said.
Four years from now, she said she hopes community members will be able to look back and say there was more cooperation and effectiveness on the board.
“I think we will have hired and worked with the best superintendent in the country for four years, because that’s who we intend to hire,” she said.
Among the changes Brown said she would like to see within the school system includes better support of teachers, administrators and employees and more focus on students at both ends of the spectrum.
“We have a lot of work to do with our special-needs students. We are not serving them well,” she said. “At the other end, we need to make sure our kids who are capable of more get more. And we also need to focus on our English language learners — our students who need extra help to acquire the language and cultural skills necessary to be successful in our society.”
Some of the other top newsmakers of the year include the following:
o retiring Sandy Springs Mayor Eva Galambos, the city’s first mayor
o her replacement, Rusty Paul, who was elected in November
o Wright Mitchell, president of the Buckhead Heritage Society and leader of the effort to move the historic Randolph-Lucas House from Buckhead to Ansley Park
o newly elected officials in Atlanta and Sandy Springs, some of whom upset incumbents to win, including District 2 Sandy Springs City Councilman Ken Dishman and Post 2 at-large Atlanta City Councilwoman Mary Norwood
o the Vinings Historic Preservation Society, named the Vinings Business of the Year in January
o Librarian Susan Kendall, selected the Rotary Club of Vinings Citizen of the Year in July
o Dante Stephensen, owner of Dante's Down the Hatch, the iconic Buckhead restaurant that closed in July after 43 years in business