EVANS COLUMN: Are we about to have another school board election with zero contested races?

Published 4:37 pm Thursday, March 7, 2024

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I’ve often said that if you walked around Troup County with a microphone and asked every person you encountered how they felt about our public schools, you’d certainly have plenty of soundbytes.

With more than 12,000 students, in many ways TCSS is the center of our community. Not only does the school system prepare our students for the future, the level of education provided helps make this community more appealing to potential homebuyers and businesses.

And if you asked around,  there’s no shortage of opinions on how to improve classrooms and raise test scores and graduation rates.

Everyone has a solution. Yet, very few actually have the courage to step forward and try to fix the problem.

Right now, qualifying is being held for four school board seats, and only three candidates have registered to run for office. Right now, there are no candidates for the District 3 seat with only one day of qualifying left. (We’re still researching what would happen if there are no candidates, as is Election Supervisor Andrew Harper.)

The last school board election saw three candidates elected with no opposition. If a candidate qualifies Friday for the District 3 seat, and no one else registers, that means Troup County would’ve elected its entire school board with none of those candidates being opposed.

Let me say that again. Troup County is about to potentially have an entire elected school board where every single candidate won by default.

During the last election cycle, Anne O’Brien, Kevin Dunn and Allen Simpson all ran unopposed. Are Tripp Foster, Ferrell Blair and Dan McAlexander all about to run unopposed as well?

And amazingly, this question comes in the middle of the search for a brand new superintendent. When Superintendent Brian Shumate announced he was resigning earlier this year, there were more than 100 comments on our story.

If you want a comment about our schools on social media, apparently Troup County can find plenty to fill that role. But when it comes to actually stepping forward and running for the office to make a difference, apparently those folks are in short supply.

I thank those who have qualified, as they are willing to step into the limelight and try to better our school system, rather than standing on the sideline complaining.

Uncontested elections are bad for the public, and when I say that, I mean no offense to the candidates currently qualified.

Contested elections create public discourse, bringing opportunities for improvement to the forefront. Uncontested races get ignored and the candidates in those races are never challenged to earn anyone’s votes.

In a community where there’s so much talk about our schools — good and bad — it’s a shame that very few are willing to actually step forward and take a leadership position for the betterment of our school system.