Cheri Wagner will be the newest member of the Bulloch County Board of Education after winning the District 1 seat in the General Election Primary, according to unofficial results.
The district takes in the northwest section of the county, including Portal, Blitch and some areas immediately west of Statesboro.
According to preliminary results released by the Bulloch County Board of Elections and Voter Registration, Wagner collected 1,022 votes, just 51 more than her opponent, Tom Caiazzo, in the nonpartisan race.
“It was a very close race. I think Tom ran a great race,” Wagner said from her home, where she spent the evening watching numbers be updated on the Georgia Secretary of State’s website with her family. “I really appreciate everybody’s support and my friends and my family that came out.”
If the result is certified, Wagner will take office Jan. 1, succeeding David Ball, who announced earlier this year that he would not run for re-election.
“I am so overwhelmed, I can’t even really process it yet,” she said.
Wagner, 44, the mother of one son who attends a Bulloch County system school, has lived in the county for more than 14 years. She has, for 21 years, worked as a nurse — most recently at East Georgia Regional Medical Center.
While Wagner has instructed students in different capacities during her career, she said the bulk of her experience comes from working with parents and administrators on local boards and committees.
It is that experience, she said, that she said would help her accomplish the goal of involving more community members in the education of their students.
“I really do want to bring the community into the fold of the school system,” she said. “I want to have open lines of communication going both ways and get our parents involved in our school system.”
Caiazzo, 45, who moved to Bulloch County from Texas 10 years ago, has worked in education for more than two decades. The father of one, whose wife, Janet, serves as an instructor at Julia P. Bryant Elementary, spent the previous eight years working as a professor of political science at East Georgia State College in Statesboro.
He said his reason for pursuing a seat on the county school board is to make a positive contribution to the education of Bulloch students.
Jason Wermers may be reached at (912) 489-9431.