05/11/08 — Taylor: Commission candidacies not a conflict of interest

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Taylor: Commission candidacies not a conflict of interest

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on May 11, 2008 2:00 AM

Two school system employees vying for county commission seats will not be considered in conflict of interest should they win, the schools superintendent says.

The contenders are Dr. Sandra McCullen, associate superintendent for curriculum and instruction, who this week captured the Democratic nomination for the at-large seat and will face Hal Keck in November. Denny Tart, director of workforce development, a Democrat, is running for the District 4 seat being vacated by Efton Sager.

Dr. Steven Taylor, superintendent of schools, said Wednesday that should either or both win in the next election, it will simply require some juggling to accommodate the added responsibilities.

"They'll have to take their annual leave, which is vacation time, because obviously they can't be paid twice for the same day's work," he said. "If they have to take a half day off for a meeting or a whole day off ... any time you would take off from the job, the applicable leave time that's available to you will apply."

Taylor said discussions on such topics took place early on, when each made the decision to run for office. Then, as now, he anticipated no hardship with the candidates juggling two roles.

"There may be occasions if they're ultimately elected where we have joint meetings during the day, but if there's just county commission work, they would have to take their vacation time. They'll just have to look at those days more closely," he said.

Since both candidates have enjoyed long careers with the school system -- Dr. McCullen with 33 years, Tart with 27 -- they likely have accrued ample vacation time to accommodate the commission schedule, Taylor said.

Besides, he noted, it is not unheard of to have educators serving on the commission.

"I don't see it as any conflict of interest," Taylor said. "I really see both Mr. Tart and Dr. McCullen, they're going to represent more than just one interest. Obviously education is going to be part of that, but they're representing all of the county.

"It's always an advantage when you have people that have information and background knowledge. We've had a lot of discussions in recent years (on education). They can provide information and clarify things that come up."