Thursday, September 22, 2022

Responses To Questions For Board Of Education Voter’s Guide Highlight Similarities, Differences Among Candidates

***Guide Available For Downloading***

Only incumbent Amy Parrish among the four candidates seeking election to the Board of Education in November said that the Board had made the case for the 4.7 percent property tax increase it approved on Aug. 1.

Parrish also disagreed with fellow Republican Ryan Hammock and Independents Melissa Eagling and Ryan Repetske, all of whom said the Board should hold Town Hall meetings, should resume live-streaming its meetings, and should let voters fill unexpected vacancies on the Board.

In responding to 21 questions designed to create a Voter’s Guide for the upcoming elections for Post 2 and Post 3 on the Board of Education, Parrish, though given the chance to create some distance between herself and current Board policy, did not.

Repetske, challenging Parrish for Post 2, and Eagling and Hammock, seeking the open Post 3 position, often were critical of the Board, though not always in the same ways.

Hammock stated a concern about the Board’s plans for its new administrative building, Eagling was very critical of the Board’s policies for citizen comment, and Repetske sharply criticized how the Board handled the tax increase.

Hammock joined Parrish in fully supporting Board action during the COVID-19 pandemic, while Repetske and Eagling said they support much of the policy but that there was inadequate internal and external communication about what was happening in the schools.

The verbatim responses of the four candidates to the 21 questions posed to them are available in a downloadable Voter’s Guide for the Post 2 and Post 3 Nov. 8 Board of Education elections.

Creation Of Guide

In May, I had asked Hammock and Julie Mauck, candidates in the Republican Party Primary runoff in June, to complete a questionnaire asking about many of the issues that the Republican Party had raised on its May Primary Ballot.

Link For Guide 

I also asked a few other questions dealing with issues that had come before the Board of Education in recent years and gave Hammock and Mauck a chance for self introduction and to indicate why he or she was the better candidate.

I published a summary of the candidates’ responses on June 7 and also made available for downloading the forms completed by each of the candidates.

In preparation for the November election, I reviewed the questions with the thought of putting together a Voter’s Guide.

I decided all of the original questions remain relevant for the November election. I also added questions, most dealing with the decision by the Board to set the millage rate on Aug. 1 at a level that represents the 4.7 percent increase in property taxes.

I sent that new questionnaire to each of the four candidates on Sept. 11, offering Hammock the chance to modify or expand on his June answers and respond to the new ones.

I told the candidates I would combine the responses into a Voter’s Guide, I would NOT edit what they wrote, I would write a brief summary of their comments, and I would make the full Guide available for download.

I did modify the questions slightly for Parrish, since she is a member of the Board, and many of the questions dealt with Board actions. The modified and original questions are included in the Guide.

Very Brief Highlights

My intent is to get as many people as possible to download and read the Guide, since I think that really is the best way to understand the responses of the candidates.

As a highlight, I’ll report that Parrish said she was the better candidate for Post 2 because of “my experience...and the training I’ve received,” while Repetske said he is the better candidate because he will bring “a new perspective, which I believe is sorely needed.”

“I am well educated, passionate, ethical, and hard working with a vision for problem solving and a heart for service,” Eagling said in making her case for election to Post 3, while Hammock said he “will represent all Oconee County citizens, not special interest groups from outside of Oconee County.”

In response to a question about what the candidate would do to improve the relationship between the Board of Education and the Board of Commissioners, Parrish said “The perception is not the reality.”

Eagling said she knew that Parrish disputed the premise of this question, so she would wait to see for herself.

Hammock said he already has held discussions with members of the two Boards and he would work to coordinate the work of the two bodies.

Repetske said he would try to get the members of the two Boards to meet together in public to “increase transparency” and get them to demonstrate “a willingness to listen to the community.”

Download The Guide

The Voter’s Guide is 39 pages long.

In addition to the responses to the questions, it includes a picture of each of the candidates and some basic information on each, drawn from the qualification forms and updated by the candidates.

I gave the candidates the opportunity to add questions they thought should be part of the Guide. None did so.

The Guide begins with the responses of Parrish, followed by those of Repetske, reflecting alphabetical order for Post 2.

The Guide then includes the responses of Eagling and Hammock, in alphabetical order, for Post 3.

The only editing I did was to highlight the answers for Repetske, Eagling, and Hammock. Parrish had done that when she returned her form.

The Guide is on my site at this url:

Please share this link with others interested in the Board of Education election.

Eagling and Repetske also appeared before the Oconee County Democrats at the party’s September meeting.

All four candidates are scheduled to appear on Sept. 26 at a debate organized by the Oconee County Republican Party.

Details on that event, which requires registration, are HERE.

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