The Jesters joke they soon will offer DeKalb taxpayers “one-stop shopping.”
“It’s one-stop shopping for people who want to complain [about county taxes or school problems],” Nancy Jester said. “You just call a Jester.”
Nancy Jester was sworn in Dec. 8 as the newest member of the DeKalb County Commission. On Jan. 5, her husband Stan Jester will be sworn in as a member of the DeKalb County school board.
Suddenly, the Dunwoody couple will consolidate a pair of the highest-ranking jobs in county government under one roof.
“This is the kitchen cabinet,” Nancy Jester joked one recent Saturday morning as the pair sat at their kitchen table during a break between their children’s weekend ball games. “It’s us sitting around the kitchen table.”
The Jesters met in Texas, where Stan grew up and Nancy, who was born in Columbus, Ga., was working at the time. They married, had their first child, and then moved to Georgia in 2003-4, they said. They now have three children — a daughter, now 11, and two sons, aged 9 and 7.
They got their start in DeKalb politics after their daughter enrolled in a DeKalb school. The two, now both 43, say they were like a lot of young DeKalb parents who didn’t like what they saw going on with the school administration and board at the time. There were charges of corruption and dysfunction and Nancy Jester believed the school board was out of touch with parents. “None of the board members had kids in school,” she said.
She started as a blogger, writing online for parents about DeKalb schools. She decided to run for school board and, in 2010, defeated incumbent board member Jim Redovian.
Soon, she, too, was off the board, removed in 2013 by Gov. Nathan Deal as he named replacements for six board members after the school system was placed on accreditation probation. She was the only ousted board member who did not contest her removal, resigning rather than pursuing an appeal through the courts.
Later that same year, she campaigned for a higher schools-related position, running unsuccessfully for state Schools Superintendent.
Along the way, Stan Jester got interested in politics, too. He’s an IT guy who looks at things in terms of numbers. Nancy is an actuary, so she’s interested in numbers, too. Stan helped Nancy with her website and did analyses of county school budgets. “People all said, “Y’all need a hobby,’ Stan Jester said. “This is our hobby.”
Stan decided to run for the seat on the school board his wife had held. “Nancy had left the school board and I wanted to continue her work,” he said. He won without opposition.
He says his goals as a board member are to reduce class sizes, improve the daily rate of pay for teachers and shed light on the school budget.
Late last summer, Nancy Jester decided to run in a special election for the District 1 seat on the DeKalb Commission after veteran Commissioner Elaine Boyer was accused by federal prosecutors of misusing county funds. Boyer resigned and Jester won the five-candidate race for the seat after a Dec. 2 runoff.
Nancy Jester says she believes that Boyer’s crimes mean her district will bear more scrutiny than in the past. “The spotlight is really on this district,” she said. “I don’t care how much good will I’ve got, it should be short lived if I don’t [produce].”
Both Jesters say they want to change the ways things are done in DeKalb. And, if things don’t change, their constituents will know where to find them.
“The good thing is, they meet on Monday and we meet on Tuesday,” Nancy Jester said, “so come see the Jesters on Wednesday.”