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Meet the candidates running in the upcoming Dawson County Board of Education special election
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This November, Dawson County voters will make decisions in a number of key local, state and national races, including President of the United States, congressional representatives and state legislative delegates. 

But voters will also decide a specially called election in Dawson County for an at large seat on the Dawson County Board of Education, recently vacated by Will Wade, the Republican nominee for Georgia’s District 9 House of Representatives seat. 

Three candidates have qualified for this special election, according to the Dawson County Board of Elections, including incumbent BOE member Nathan Ingram, who was appointed to serve out the remainder of Wade’s term. 

This week, the Dawson County News spoke with each of the three candidates to learn more about their backgrounds, priorities and motivations to run for the seat.

This story continues below. 

David Yenerall

Age: 47

David Yenerall
David Yenerall

How long has he lived in Dawson County? 10 years. 

Education 

Yenerall holds a Master’s Degree in Astronomy from Western Sydney University and a Master’s Degree in Teaching from the University of North Georgia. Currently, he is a Doctoral Candidate at the University of North Georgia. 

Political experience 

Yenerall has held no elected offices.

Career experience and community involvement 

Yenerall is a Senior Lecturer of Astronomy at Georgia State University where he has taught for the last 10 years. In 2010 Yenerall received a NASA Endeavor Fellowship through the NASA Endeavor Teacher Fellowship Trust Fund, which was started in the wake of the Challenger Space Shuttle disaster. He continues his association with NASA today, giving public talks on NASA missions as a member of the NASA JPL Solar System Ambassador Program. 

Why is he running for this seat? 

“I would like to use my experience and education to serve our community. As such, I have considered running for the Board of Education for several years and have been encouraged by many Dawsonville residents to do so. When Will Wade’s seat became vacant, it was my honor and duty to offer my service as your candidate,” Yenerall said in an email to the DCN. 

If elected in November, what would Yenerall’s priorities be?

Yenerall said that he aims to bring a fresh perspective to the Dawson County Board of Education and plans to prioritize the system’s budget and plans for growth in the years to come. 

“The Dawson County School System has made great strides towards excellence in the past several years and I will encourage and support the continuation of such progress,” he said. “I believe that when taxpayer dollars are involved, there should be transparency. Further, I believe that when expenditures are made by the school system, there should be follow-up.”


Nathan Ingram 

Nathan Ingram
Nathan Ingram

Age: 46 

How long has he lived in Dawson County? Ingram is a Dawson County native and 1992 graduate of Dawson County High School. 

Education 

Bachelor’s Degree in Science from the University of North Georgia, CPA License from UNG.

Political experience 

Ingram has held no prior elected offices but has spent nearly 20 years working with local government agencies in administrative roles. 

Career experience and community involvement 

Ingram currently serves as Assistant City Manager for the City of Canton in Cherokee County. Previously he served as Canton's Chief Financial Officer, as an accountant for a public accounting firm in Gainesville and as licensed sub-agent at Roger Slaton State Farm Insurance. 

Why is he running for this seat?

Ingram said that he is running for the seat to give back to the Dawson County School System, which has been integral to his family’s life. 

“Should Dawson County citizens allow me, I hope to continue the work that I’ve been a part of over the past six months as an appointed member,” he said in an email to the DCN. 

If elected in November, what would Ingram’s priorities be? 

If elected, Ingram said that his main priority would be to address the educational “elephant in the room’ that has appeared over the last six months: COVID-19 and it’s impacts on education. 

“This COVID pandemic has certainly offered up some extraordinary challenges. Moving forward, we must find ways to make our children, teachers and parents comfortable with the new norm and getting back to the priority at hand; to educate our children. All the while, we are trying to figure out what that new norm is,” Ingram said. “There are a lot of questions and issues that need to be ironed out over the coming year and all of this is still predicated on how quickly the coronavirus makes its leave.”


Mark Sussman
Mark Sussman
Mark Sussman

Age: 61 

How long has he lived in Dawson County? Sussman has been living in Dawson County off and on since 2011 and permanently moved his family here in 2016. 

Education

Graduated from Southern New Hampshire University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business with a focus on hospitality. 

Political experience

Sussman has held no prior publicly elected office, but previously served on the Board of Directors for the Southeastern Chapter of the International Association of Exhibitions and Events. 

Career experience and community involvement

Currently, Sussman serves as a realtor with Keller Williams in Dawson County. Prior to moving to Dawson County, he worked with the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau for 12 years as Director of Citywide/Trade Show Sales. He is a member of the 400 North Association of Realtors and serves on its Advocacy and Safety Committees. 

Why is he running for this seat? 

In an email to the DCN, Sussman said that he felt called to run for the seat as a way to be involved with and support his community.  

“With the rapid growth we are experiencing it's important to make sure we stay focused on the needs of our children,” Sussman said. “I want to ensure our students, educators, staff and administrators are given the necessary tools and support to do their jobs and be able to focus on the individual needs of our students. Not everyone learns the same and each of our students deserves the opportunity for a productive future.”  

If elected in November, what would Sussman’s priorities be? 

If elected, Sussman said that his main goal would be to continue supporting the school system and Superintendent Damon Gibbs, as they “move the needle” on issues like graduation rates, fiscal efficiency and school ratings. 

“With my corporate career knowledge of managing a budget, I will commit to making sure taxpayer money is spent wisely and not erroneously,” He said. “As a homeowner, I don't want to see my property taxes increase but I also want to make sure I am doing my fair share to support Dawson County Schools.”