Q&A with John Cristadoro, Republican candidate for Cobb School Board Post 5

John Cristadoro surrounded by his wife son and daughterJohn Cristadoro and family (photo provided by John Cristadoro)

By Rebecca Gaunt

John Cristadoro, father to two Cobb students, announced his campaign earlier this year for the Cobb County Board of Education.

He owns a small business, serves on the board for the Cobb Chamber of Commerce, and coaches youth football and wrestling.

Cristadoro, a Republican, is running for the Post 5 seat currently held by controversial Republican incumbent David Banks. Banks has not yet announced whether he plans to run for a fifth term in 2024.

Democrat Laura Judge also announced she is running for Post 5, which includes Pope, Walton, and Wheeler High Schools. 

Age: 45 

Family: Malgorzata “Gosia” Cristadoro (Wife) Elliana Cristadoro – 14 (Daughter) Luca Cristadoro – 12 (Son) 

How long have you lived in Cobb? 10 years 

Profession: Small business owner, Alliance Activation (Media Agency) 

Volunteer/community service: 

● Board Member – Cobb Chamber of Commerce 

● Board Member – Advocates of Love (Orphanage in the Dominican Republic) ● Board Advocate – Positive Athlete Organization (GState Of Georgia) 

● Walton Raider Youth Program – Head Coach, 8th Grade Football 

● Walton Raider Youth Program – Assistant Coach , Youth Program Wrestling 

Republican incumbent David Banks is in his fourth term and hasn’t announced whether he will run again. What motivated you to run for the Post 5 seat, especially as a potential primary challenger? 

First I want to thank you for reaching out to our campaign and allowing me to share my vision with the Cobb County Courier. 

Let me start by saying that I am not running against David Banks but rather I am running for a seat on the school board. Education and helping our next generation has long been a passion of mine. When I began speaking with my wife, friends and family about where to make the most positive impact, the place the conversation always came back to was the Cobb Board of Education. The Post 5 seat based on where I currently live is my only option – It was quite literally that simple. 

On your website, you shared that you grew a multimillion dollar business as president and CEO. How would those skills guide you as a school board member? 

I believe my proven success in growing a very small business venture; growing our brand into a much larger operation, requires a specific understanding and skill set that I rely on every day. As the next board member from East Cobb, I will bring those talents to the table; helping form a solid school leadership team which will deliver the best results possible for our students, parents, and community. 

The district has been criticized by parents and stakeholders who want better communication about policies/changes enacted by the district and more transparency in financial matters brought to the board for a vote. Do you believe these criticisms are justified? Is there room for improvement? 

At the end of the day, our Cobb County School Board must speak with one voice in order to deliver a learning environment which has consistently received accolades not only state wide but nationally. Our staff, parents, and community must never be confused about Cobb’s mission statement to help produce a student who is able to compete at the next level. Once elected, I will take a deep dive into our policies to ensure that the articulation is clear and consistent. Should our communications need some ‘shoring up,” my background in media and messaging will be especially helpful in that endeavor. 

I will always support a message which clearly states the job of parenting belongs to the family and our schools must focus on providing an instructional learning environment. As I continue to educate myself on school communications and policies I must always acknowledge that whether it be in my family, my businesses ventures or the school board, everyone has room to improve. To paraphrase an insightful quote – I will never allow Good to get in the way of Great. 

Last year the board passed a resolution allowing for armed personnel at schools. What do you think about the policy and how it was passed? 

As I stated on my webpage, (www.John4Cobb.com), my number one priority is the safety of our students. I know that we live in an unfathomable world where a few deranged individuals want to harm our young students. As a board member, I will not be shy about supporting policies that ensure every child goes home safe. Whether that means adding new security protocols, constantly reviewing security day-to-day procedures or hiring additional personnel, I will not waiver on my support of a safe school and commitment to our children. I do believe that it was extremely unfortunate that a small group of individuals thought their attempt to hijack a public school board meeting would produce any meaningful long term results. As a leader who always tries to bring different points together, I would support an in depth and honest conversation that is open and respectful. 

The Georgia Board of Education just overhauled English/Language Arts standards to focus more on phonics and “science of reading.” What strategies or support should the district provide to its teachers, administrators, and students to increase literacy skills? 

As a school board member, I will lean into the expertise we have on our curriculum leadership teams. I know as a parent and business owner that reading comprehension is a vital skill all of our students must master. Yes, I am a big fan of phonics. I am also a proponent of instruction which supports the entire foundation of students’ intellectual growth. I will support programs with proven results and that’s data driven. My personal educational background does not include attending classes on instruction or the pedagogy of learning. Thus, I will sit, listen, and learn. Finally, I will support any instructional program that works but you must prove it to me as a school board member. 

What are the district’s biggest strengths? 

Our teachers and administration have produced an educational system which focuses on preparing our children for the next chapter of their life. As such, our standardized test scores rival any school in the state and our fine arts and athletic programs always seem to bring home high honors and trophies. I am also very impressed at the community buy-in for our Ed-Splost program and nationally recognized AAA ratings which the financial department delivers. 

What do you see as the biggest areas for improvement in Cobb Schools? 

I would like to see a stronger skill set taught to our children in how to become an entrepreneur. The rewards and risks associated with starting a business or growing a current company is part of the fabric that makes up our nation/community. I would also like to see a stronger ‘bench’ developed from the ranks of our teachers for those who would like to go into administration. I have always found building a strong team means growing our teams internally and recruiting where needed if necessary outside our brand. In addition, I will always keep my eye on the results that our schools are turning out, whether that be reading scores, math mastery or any metrics that are reported by the state or other outside institutions. 

Is there any other topic you want to address that the Courier didn’t ask?

Thank you for this question. One leg of my platform is to promote the growth of entrepreneurship among our students. Our childrens’ generation will need this understanding to continue to compete in our global economy.

Find Cristadoro’s website at www.John4Cobb.com

Rebecca Gaunt earned a degree in journalism from the University of Georgia and a master’s degree in education from Oglethorpe University. After teaching elementary school for several years, she returned to writing. She lives in Marietta with her husband, son, two cats, and a dog. In her spare time, she loves to read, binge Netflix and travel.