Elections in Cobb County


Evolution education wasn't the only issue on which candidates for school board in Cobb County, Georgia, were running, but it was evidently important in the July 18, 2006, general primary election. For example, the Marietta Daily Journal commented in its July 14, 2006, editorial, "We suspect that most Cobb residents are tired of their local school board going out of its way to be controversial with things like the 'evolution sticker.'"

The board voted in 2002 to require biology textbooks in the Cobb County school district to bear a warning label describing evolution as "a theory, not a fact". A group of local parents filed suit, and in January 2005 a federal district court judge ruled in Selman v. Cobb County that the disclaimer was unconstitutional. Following the ruling, the stickers were painstakingly removed, with the aid of putty knives and glue remover, from approximately 34,000 textbooks, during the summer of 2005.

But in the meantime, the board chose to appeal the decision. In May 2006, the appeals court vacated the district court's judgment and remanded the case for further evidential proceedings. It remains to be seen whether the parties to the suit are interested in pursuing the matter further. The attitudes of the candidates in the present elections suggest that the school board may be willing to settle rather than fight in court again.

In District 2, incumbent Curt Johnston ran unopposed in the Republican primary; he will face Holli Cash, who triumphed by a wide margin over Patrick Stafford in the Democratic primary, in November. The Marietta Daily Journal (July 13, 2006) reported that Cash and Stafford both opposed evolution disclaimers in textbooks, and that Johnston, who voted both to insert the disclaimers in the textbooks in 2002 and to appeal the trial court's decision in Selman v. Cobb County, now opposes reinserting the disclaimers.

In District 4, incumbent Laura Searcy was not seeking re-election; John E. Abraham handily defeated Chris Callaghan in the Republican primary. Since there is no Democratic candidate for school board in the district, Abraham will automatically replace Searcy when her term expires. The Marietta Daily Journal (July 19, 2006) reported that both Abraham and Callaghan opposed inserting evolution disclaimers in science textbooks.

In District 6, incumbent Kathie Johnstone faced three challengers in the Republican primary, Randy Turner, John Crooks, and Al Rowe. In the four-person field, Crooks received about 44% of the vote to Johnstone's 28%, Turner's 16%, and Rowe's 11%. Crooks and Johnstone will face each other in a run-off election, and the winner will face Democrat Beth Farokhi in November.

Apparently in reference to all five candidates in District 6, the Marietta Daily Journal (July 13, 2006) reported, "All candidates oppose the board's move in 2002 to insert evolution disclaimers in science textbooks." Johnstone was not on the board when the disclaimers were adopted, and she voted against appealing the decision in Selman v. Cobb County, saying that she felt that "it's time to move on" (Atlanta Journal-Constitution, January 18, 2005).