Through it all, some local residents say, Eugene “Gene” Walker has been a welcome calm in the seemingly never-ending storm.
Once again, Walker has been voted “Best School Board Member” in CrossRoadsNews’ Best of East Metro contest.
The District 9 School Board member won the same title in 2011 and, before that, in 2009, just one year after he joined the School Board.
“I’m real, real humble and very appreciative,” Walker said. “To me that’s a very high honor … because I dedicate my life to service, and that suggests to me that there are some people who recognize and appreciate the service that I’m rendering.”
Stone Mountain resident Mary Sanders, a recently retired Georgia Perimeter College administrator, said she voted for Walker because he “has always been very innovative in education and throughout his career he’s been concerned about our youth.”
Sanders has been impressed with Walker’s demeanor on the board as the system has struggled with its controversies.
“I would go to the School Board meetings and he was just a very calm man, energetic and keeping things focused,” she said.
Michelle Terrell, a self-employed financial analyst in Stone Mountain, said she believes Walker is a “genuine, sincere individual who wants to do the right thing.”
“He has gone through many issues and changes and he has persevered,” Terrell said. “I think he provides a balance for all the political issues that surround the School Board.”
Walker joined the School Board after a December 2008 special election to replace the late Elizabeth Andrews, He was re-elected in November 2010 and then elected School Board chairman Jan. 9 on a 6-3 vote from fellow board members.
Walker is a former state senator, former chairman of the DeKalb Development Authority, former member of the state Board of Pardons and Paroles, and former associate superintendent of DeKalb schools.
“I tell people all the time I’m not trying to keep a job. I’m basically retired from work,” Walker said. “Every action I take, every opinion I give, I think, is fair and just for all considered.”