Dalton attorney Sam Sanders took an early lead Tuesday and by the end of the night he had defeated incumbent Pablo Perez by 1,681 votes (69.06%) to 749 votes (30.77%) in a race for the Dalton Board of Education.
There were four write-in votes.
"I'm very excited," Sanders said. "I'm looking forward to beginning my service on the school board. Pablo, Dr. Perez, ran a good race. He's a good man and was a worthy opponent. I want to thank him for his service on the board for the past four years, and I wish him the best of luck."
Perez congratulated Sanders Tuesday evening.
"We had a great turnout. He ran a great campaign," he said. "I thank the voters for letting me serve for the past four years and for letting me take part in this great exercise of democracy."
A Whitfield County native, Sanders graduated from Southeast Whitfield High School and Harding University in Arkansas before earning a law degree from Tulane University School of Law in Louisiana.
Sanders has served on the board of the Dalton Education Foundation, which provides grants to teachers and recognizes outstanding teachers. He is currently the group's president. He is also a member of the Brookwood School Council. His wife works for Dalton Public Schools, and his two daughters attend Brookwood School.
He said that until he takes office in January he will "be asking a lot of questions."
"I'll be meeting with members of the administration who have the time to talk to me," he said. We (school board members) have training in Atlanta in December, and that will jumpstart my work."
During the campaign, Sanders said the role of school board members is to support the teachers and not to try to tell them how to teach. He said he would focus on accountability and helping the school system execute its strategic plan.
"I appreciate all my supporters," Sanders said. "I didn't do this alone. A lot of people put in some hard work."