We’re just a week away from electing four of our seven school board members. With Bill Tatum not running for re-election, we already know that at least one of the five new challengers will get seated. The founding fathers also sense a continuation of the 2010 voting sentiment calling for fiscal conservatism and a broadly based public concern that the status quo just isn’t sufficient for our public schools. There is a bit of anti-incumbent fervor being expressed as voters exit the early voting sites, so it looks as if Lee County citizens are ready to embrace some new personalities on their BOE.
Last week the Sanford Herald broke with tradition and endorsed four new candidates for the BOE. Herald readers were treated to a lengthy discussion of ‘pros’ and ‘cons’ for each candidate and the paper seemed plenty introspective in its analysis. Still, we founding fathers believe the editorial board may have mis-applied its priorities in identifying some of those candidates for the BOE who are most likely to bring about the accountability and leadership changes that voters are looking for. Listed below are the results of our analysis. We believe our top-rated candidates are well-qualified for the board and have the best potential for restoring the leadership and managerial oversight so seriously lacking on the school board today.
Our Recommended Candidates
Wendy Hughes Carlyle is an easy pick for the new school board. She is a former teacher-of-the-year in Lee County has also managed the AIG program in the central office for both the Lee and Wake County school systems. This highly experienced and articulate educator is clearly one of the best BOE candidates, ever. She might set a new record for most votes ever tallied for a Lee school board position.
Cameron Sharpe is an incumbent BOE member who represents the lone conservative voice on many recent issues (such as embracing the Evergreen Financial Review ordered by the commissioners, and justifying the need to protect teachers while trimming school spending in the next fiscal year). Sharpe has the best financed and organized campaign we have seen in recent years and he is well respected among his very strong base of voters. He represents the conservative continuity needed when the BOE begins anew this summer.
David Hector is new to the political scene in Lee County, but will bring strong credentials for financial review and analysis to BOE. David has great energy, intellect, and passion for analyzing the school budget to identify cost avoidance opportunities and to measure returns on investment.
Dan Wood is another sharp mind who shows flashes of brilliance in exposing fiscal irresponsibility in some of our recent K-12 operational expenditures. He is a successful small businessman with a sharp eye for unproductive programs and wasteful spending. Dan has been the most articulate and outspoken candidate during the campaign to date. He is no apologist for the Superintendent or present school policies.
These are our four top candidates for the BOE; two of which (Carlyle and Wood) we have in common with the Herald Editorial Board’s recommendations. We would be remiss if we didn’t also provide some commentary on the other prospects competing for the BOE. So, here goes.
Dr. Lynn Smith is a bright and articulate man, with four years of experience on the BOE. Perhaps his biggest hallmark is his well-known refusal to accept a salary for his work on the BOE. However, Dr. Smith is a vocal advocate and apologist for the superintendent. And he shares much of the blame for the BOE’s failure to ensure Lee County schools are achieving full potential.
Not Qualified or Suitable for the BOE
Current BOE Chairman, Shawn Williams, is a fish out of water on the BOE. His board leadership has been herky-jerky, often confused and incoherent. He has had a number of apparent conflicts of interest, two of which directly affect him and his family financially- his receipt of nearly a million dollars for after-school programs he and his church administered until very recently; and his wife’s employment in school custodial work that should have been privatized for cost savings to the school system. Williams should not be returned to the BOE.
David Nestor is a local real estate agent who has been involved in educational programs that bring luster back to career and technical education among Lee County students. Still, Nestor’s association with shadowy “PIG PAC” progressives and his lack of commentary on many of the other K-12 issues raise serious questions about his willingness and ability to oversee the superintendent’s activities. Moreover, his actions at the annual “whine tasting” festival on Saturday, May 5th, reveal his immaturity for public office. He threatened to shut down the wine event if the Pottery Festival organizer didn’t immediately have the conservative tent and signs removed from civic center grounds. He ordered the J.S. Howard site contractor to tear down the tent and signs, leaving the tentage strewn all over the ground. The conservatives’ American flag was left lying on the ground– in the dirt. That’s the David Nestor who does not deserve public office. He serves only his only self-interests, and could care less about the First Amendment rights of others.
Another challenger this year, Tamara Brogan, is a nice lady with admirable intentions. However, she doesn’t seem to have the will power or ability to challenge the status quo in our public school system. She has often stated her support for the current BOE and superintendent, and she seems intent in sustaining all present board policies and operational practices. Mrs. Brogan is already very active on other boards and volunteer activities around the county, and perhaps she should stick to those pursuits rather than seeking elected office.
So, there you have it: four strong candidates; each with fiscally conservative views, each with children in our public school system, and each with declared interests in changing the methods and programs of our schools to improve student performance and teacher morale.