Thursday, July 15, 2010

17 Want to be Post 5 Member of the Oconee County Board of Education

Initial Review Monday

Seventeen individuals came forward before the 5 p.m. deadline today to ask the Oconee County Board of Education to consider them for appointment to the vacant Post 5 slot.

Included are attorneys, retired and current educators, a developer, financial advisers and business owners.

The four members of the Board are scheduled to meet in a work session on Monday to begin reviewing the applications.

Full screening will begin in August, with a Post 5 member being selected in late September or early October, according to the posted schedule.

Tom Breedlove resigned from the board on May 10. At a specially called meeting on May 19, Chairman David Weeks, Post 2 incumbent Mack Guest, Post 3 member Kim Argo and Post 4 member Mike Hunter agreed to invite the four candidates who had filed to run in the July 20 primary for the two open positions on the board to apply for the Post 5 position instead.

That meant that Guest and Argo, along with Weeks and Hunter, were inviting Guest and Argo, along with Carter Strickland and Guest challenger Republican Mark Thomas, to apply for the Post 5 opening.

Only Strickland, who filed as a Democrat to run against the winner of the Guest-Thomas contest, said he was interested in dropping out of the race and assuming the Post 5 opening.

At its June 14 meeting, the board decided to abandon this process, pass over Strickland and accept applications by today’s deadline.

Argo is running unopposed for reelection to her Post 3 position in the July 20 primary and is unopposed in November.

The 17 applicants for the Post 5 opening were asked to complete a two-page form that asked for address, contact information, occupation, length of residency in the county and reason for wanting to be appointed to the board.

Deborah Epps, administrative assistant to Superintendent John Jackson, told me yesterday that the completed forms will be scanned and available for the Monday board meeting, which starts at 5 p.m. in the Superintendent's Building at 34 School street in Watkinsville.

The final applicant, Wayne Bagley, turned in his paperwork about 20 minutes before the deadline, and Jackson gave me a list that contained name, address, contact information, and occupation of each of the applicants at the 5 p.m. closing of his office.

The list given me by Jackson is on my site.

Among the applicants are Franklin Shumake, former deputy school superintendent for the Georgia Department of Education and former Oconee County school superintendent, Rich Clark, who ran unsuccessfully against Breedlove for the BOE slot in 2008, and Gregory Zengo, a Watkinsville physician.

The first three applicants were Stuart McGarity, Glenn Townsend and Zengo. Board Chairman Weeks gave me their names during an interview I did with him on July 1.

On Tuesday the Athens Banner-Herald ran a story by reporter Erin France that indicated that six applications had been submitted. France did not identify the applicants and told me yesterday she did not ask for their names because she planned to wait until tomorrow to obtain the full list.

Dan Matthews said on his blog Tuesday that he did try to obtain the list that day, was denied access and filed an open records request for the information.

Epps sent me and others a list of eight candidates as of 2 p.m. Tuesday, and Jessica Rumely of The Oconee Enterprise put the names on the paper’s web site an hour later.

Epps told me yesterday afternoon that the list had grown to 10 applicants.

Weeks told me in the interview I did with him on July 1 that he was hoping for as many as 30 applicants for the job. He also listed in that interview the characteristics the board will be seeking.

Jackson told me today that he expects the 17 applicants will be asked to make their first personal presentations to the board at its Aug. 2 session.

On Tuesday, voters will select the winner of the Guest-Thomas contest, who will meet Strickland in November to fill the Post 2 position on the board.

By 4:15 p.m. today, 1,184 voters had cast their ballots as part of early voting for the Tuesday primary.

On July 1, according to Oconee County Elections Director Pat Hayes, the county had 20,244 active voters.

On July 1, 2006, the county had 17,030 active voters, and 4,147, or 24.4 percent, cast a ballot in the July primary.

If that same ratio holds in this election, about 5,000 voters will participate in the primary this year.

Early voting, being held at the Board of Elections office near the courthouse in Watkinsville and at the Civic Center on Hog Mountain road, ends at 5 p.m. tomorrow.