KSU student launches campaign for Cobb school board Post 4

Austin Heller, Cobb school board candidate

Austin Heller, a rising senior at Kennesaw State University, announced this week he’s running for a seat on the Cobb Board of Education in 2022.

Heller, a political science major who is 20 years old, is running as a Democrat for the Post 4 seat held by Republican incumbent David Chastain.

That post includes the Kell and Sprayberry clusters and also covers the KSU campus area. Heller is a graduate of the Hardaway School in Columbus, and initially majored in elementary education at KSU. He also is a senior resident assistant for housing and as a member of the school’s Civic Engagement team he encourages students “on their right to vote and community engagement opportunities.”

Heller, who made his announcement after the Cobb school board meeting Thursday, said he’s running because “I see a desperate need for our county and our Board to lead with empathy and pass equitable policies that uplift all our students.”

He referenced his youth as a “military brat” for being exposed to different cultures and said “I believe our community deserves to be fully represented as we are all important to creating a Cobb that we are proud of.”

He said he is running on a platform of “empathy, equity, and advocacy,” and mentioned the three Democrats on the board—Jaha Howard, Charisse Davis and Tre’ Hutchins—for doing “amazing” work for Cobb school students.

” I would be honored and humbled to join them on the Board fighting for Cobb families,” Heller said.

Heller said he opposes the Cobb school board’s recent vote to ban the teaching of Critical Race Theory in the Cobb County School District. That was a 4-3 vote on party lines, with Chastain voting in favor and the three Democrats against.

“Honest and comprehensive history is crucial to understanding where we are today,” Heller said in his campaign announcement. “I believe in our trained educators to have hard conversations with our students in safe spaces inside the classroom. I also know and understand how important it is to see yourself represented in and out of the classroom. Every student in our county matters and I am ready to help them be the most successful and healthy individuals they can be.”

Heller doesn’t have a campaign website for now but his e-mail address is: [email protected] He also is on Instagram and Twitter.

Chastain, a systems engineer at Lockheed-Martin, has indicated he will be seeking a third term. In his most recent filings with Cobb Elections in May, he filed a personal financial disclosure report.

He won re-election in 2018 over Democrat Cynthia Parr with 53 percent of the vote.

Another East Cobb seat on the school board, held by Davis in Post 6, also will be up in 2022. That includes the Walton and Wheeler clusters.

Post 2 in the Smyrna area also will be on the ballot next year. Howard, like Davis, will be completing his first term.

Before those elections, however, all seven posts on the Cobb school board will be redrawn by the county legislative delegation in reapporionment.

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