Two members added to committee
By Steve Herring
Published in News on June 11, 2010 1:46 PM
Two more people have been named to the committee that will recommend a replacement for District 2 school board member Shirley Sims in an apparent effort to blunt criticisms the committee inadequately represents district residents.
Until Thursday, the only District 2 resident on the six-person committee was former Mount Olive town commissioner Paul Smalley. He has now been joined by Dudley residents Shirley Bond, a retired educator, and Robyn Wade, a radio announcer.
"I have been getting a lot of criticisms for not putting enough people from District 2 on the committee," said county Commission Chairman Jack Best, who appointed the committee. "I have decided to reach out and add two more, Shirley Bond and Robyn Wade, both live in District 2 and both tell me they could be impartial in looking at people."
Best said the comments he has heard are that since the seat represents District 2, the committee should better reflect the district.
"That sounds reasonable to me," he said. "Maybe those people were right, and we needed more people from District 2. The only thing that I am looking for is somebody who will be impartial."
Best said he had tried, with little success, to get people from the district to serve on the committee.
"Nobody has ever called me from District 2 to serve on the committee," he said. "I had to call people. Truth is none came knocking down my door to be on the school board.
"What I want is the best person for the job. We have got to be transparent and have impartial people who can make a decision that we all can agree on."
Best said his main concerns have been appointing a nonpartisan committee and trying to find the right person for the school board.
He also renewed his call for eligible District 2 residents interested in the school board seat to contact the county.
People should send a resume and a letter of intent to Marcia R. Wilson, Clerk to the Board, Wayne County, P.O. Box 227, Goldsboro, N.C. 27533-0227. Applic-ations must be received no later than 5 p.m. June 21. All applicants will be subject to a background screening. The telephone number is 731-1445.
District 2 stretches southward from the south side of a section of Ash Street and includes Dudley and the section of Mount Olive east of the railroad tracks. It was created as a minority district when the county's voting districts were formed in the late 1980s.
So far three candidates have expressed an interest in the appointment, but a fourth one is expected, Best said.
One of the candidates, Lawrence Durham of Dudley, is Ms. Wade's cousin. The other two candidates are Ven Faulk of Dudley, a former school board candidate, and Joyce Hatch of Mount Olive, who, according to the Board of Elections, actually lives in District 4 and would be not be eligible to serve.
Best said he did not ask Ms. Sims to serve since she was leaving the area.
District 2 Commissioner J.D. Evans of Dudley said he prefers his position on the board rather than being on the committee.
"If the entire process was just District 2, then I should be included," he said. "I think I am in a better position where I am at now. I am OK with where I am."
Committee meetings, which will be open to the public, could begin within the next few weeks and the first meeting is expected to be organizational. Best said he will provide a 48-hour advance notice of the first meeting.
Best added he had been waiting on committee member and school board Vice Chairman Thelma Smith, who has been ill.
"She is worth waiting for," he said. "She has a lot of insight and integrity."
Mrs. Smith was the first person to be appointed to the committee. Other members are Jimmy Williams of Mount Olive, former superintendent of Wayne County Schools; Andy Anderson of Pikeville, senior member of the Wayne County commissioners; Jim Parker, a former school board member; Smalley; and Best.
Ms. Sims, whose term runs through 2012, has moved to Garner and will step down from her school board seat on June 30.
Wayne County is unique in the state in that commissioners and not the school board fill vacant seats on the school board -- a holdover from the early 1990s when the county and Goldsboro city school systems merged.
A board of education normally fills its own vacancy if it is nonpartisan, such as is the case in Wayne County. If it is partisan, then the political party of the departing member fills the seat.
It will be the second time commissioners have made an appointment to the school board. The first was in April 1997 when they met in special session to name a replacement for Carl Maples following his resignation from the school board.
Local and state education leaders agree it is time to end that practice. Doing so will require passage of a local bill in the General Assembly.
The school board did look in recent weeks at having such a bill introduced during the ongoing legislative short session. However, the short session traditionally is limited to budgetary issues. Issues perceived as being controversial are avoided.