Many city residents came out during yesterday’s board of education meeting to express their distaste at the election change from April to November, but only received rationalizations from board members who voted in favor of the move.
Georgia Daniel, a resident, questioned the soundness of the decision by asking Christopher Irving, the board president, who voted to move the election to November, “When and how was the public community notified?” It was during a hush-hush emergency meeting on September 3rd, 2013, when five members of the school board voted in favor of moving the election.
Some of whom voted in favor of the move: Chrystal Cleaves, Christopher Irving, Manuel Martinez, Kenneth Simmons, and Corey Teague, justified their positions by taking a brief moment to explain the reasoning behind their decision.
Two City Council members attended the meeting advocating against the election change. Kenneth Morris, councilman at-large, said many of the candidates will be focused on ballot positioning, making alliances, and fundraising, rather than taking into account the interest of parents and students during the election. Morris said, the move “jeopardizes children’s educational outcomes” because many will be focused on getting elected rather than looking after what is good for parents and students.
“I ran for the school board using my own fund,” said William McKoy, 3rd Ward councilman, who hinted that in the future, because the elections are moved to November, small time candidates with little money, will have hard time competing. McKoy said, he ran with “maybe about 350 to 400 dollars.” A candidate of paltry means, like himself many years ago, will have a slim chance of winning. “I personally don’t think it’s the right decision,” said McKoy.
“You mentioned something about throwing fuel to the fire of politicizing this,” said Manuel Martinez, a board member, responding to the comment of a speaker, “and to be honest to you I haven’t taken that into consideration. Looking back, perhaps yea, perhaps that’s true.” Martinez argued that the race was already politicized because running for the board is no different from running for any other office. “We campaign, we fund raise, we submit paperwork to the State, we knock on doors, we ask folks to vote for us,” said Martinez.
Corey Teague, who was against the election change last year, but this year voted for the move said, “Can we make it work? I believe we can.” Many in the city were shocked when Teague flip-flopped from being against the move to being for it, including McKoy, who said so during a council meeting.
Kenneth Simmons, a school board member, said regardless of when the election takes place “education is always a top issue.” Simmons said during elections candidates will just have to work a bit hard; he said of himself, “I have to work a little harder to get my message out.”
With no defection from those who voted for the measure, it is unlikely that the election month of April will be restored. The law that allowed districts to move their elections to November states that, only after four years of the vote being effectuated, will the board be able to restore or change the election date again.