Buford school board, city commission posts decided Tuesday

BUFORD -- On Tuesday, two political newcomers and two longtime public officials will square off for school and commission posts in the city of Buford.

The outcome of both contested races is in the hands of the city's registered voters.

Holding the post of city commissioner for more than 36 years, Incumbent Phillip Beard said Buford is a "unique" city, in that it continues to experience success despite an economic downturn.

"We've got money in the bank," said Beard, 71, a real estate broker. "It's been planned that way, and I've worked hard for a long time to help keep it that way."

Opponent Charles Van House Jr. said he has no political experience, but is "intelligent and a hard worker."

"I try to give everybody an even shake, and I'm honest," the 69-year-old man said. "I hope to get a chance to prove it to the residents."

Buford City Commissioner

Phillip Beard

Age: 71

Occupation: Real estate broker

Education: Graduate of Buford High School

Political Experience: More than 36 years on the city commission and 20-plus years on the school board.

Family: Wife, Sylvia

Charles Van House Jr.

Age: 69

Occupation: Retired courier

Education: Bachelor’s degree in actuarial science from the University of Texas

Political Experience: None

Family: Single

Buford School Board

Leon Johnson

Age: 65

Occupation: Retired, General Motors

Education: Graduate of Buford High School

Political Experience: School board member since 2001 and served on the Buford Housing Authority

Family: Wife, Beatric Lavon Johnson, and son, Leon Clifton Johnson, 40

Beth Lancaster

Age: 41

Occupation: Office manager and bookkeeper at law firm in Buford

Education: Graduate of Buford High School

Political Experience: None

Family: Husband, Wayne Lancaster; son, Devin Lancaster, 19, and Dillon Lancaster, 14

A retired courier, Van House Jr. said he's lived in Buford for 21 years.

The race for the city of Buford's school board has similar dynamics.

Longtime school board member Leon Johnson is up against political newcomer Beth Lancaster.

Johnson, 65, has been on the board since 2001 as well as serving for a stint on the city's housing authority.

Johnson said he wants to stay the course. "I think the school system is in good condition, and the staff is perfect," he said.

Added Johnson: "A lot of students and parents look at Buford City Schools as being superb, and I want to help keep it running just like that."

A retired General Motors worker, Johnson is a high school graduate of Buford City Schools.

His opponent, Lancaster, also is a Buford City Schools graduate.

Lancaster, 41, works part-time at a law firm in Buford as the office manager and bookkeeper.

She said that, if elected to the school board post, she would be "fair, honest and do what's best for the students and the school system."

Lancaster said the city "has a wonderful school system that has done a great job in academics and extra-curricular activities. I look forward to working on the school board to maintain the high standard of excellence."

Running unopposed on the ballot is school board member Daren Perkins.