Editorial: Advice to public officials

Do your jobs

Another month has passed without the Williston District 29 School Board taking action on filling a vacant seat.

The board has been short one member since the end of June 2016 when Billy Williams resigned.

The remaining board members have expressed a desire to hold a special election for the remainder of Williams’ term, which ends in April 2018. However, a state statute from 1947 is preventing them from doing so. That 70-year-old statute, which applies to local school districts, requires the remaining board members to appoint someone when a vacancy occurs.

While there’s been plenty of talk over the past 15 months, there has been a lack of action.

Board members have solicited applications from those interested in being appointed, but they can’t seem to agree on who to select. A vote to appoint one of two applicants ended in a 2-2 vote.

That’s the problem with having an even number of board members. Tie votes will occur.

At their May meeting, the board voted to send a letter to state lawmakers in the hopes of having the state statute changed in order to allow for a special election. However, D29 Board Chairwoman Ferlecia Cuthbertson said they have not received a response as of last week.

Regardless of the reason on why they haven’t appointed someone, we encourage the board to do their jobs and fulfill their legal obligation under the current law.

Certainly there is someone in the Williston area who the four board members could agree would make a good board member. After all, there are many good folks in the Williston-Elko area who care about children and are working to improve their lives.

Not only is there a vacant seat, but now the district is without a superintendent after Dr. Missoura Ashe resigned last week.

That means the board is now tasked with searching for a new superintendent. Though that process will likely take months, they also have to name an interim superintendent.

If the board hasn’t been able to compromise and appoint a fifth board member, how are they going to agree on who should be the district’s next leader?

Do your homework

On a different topic, it’s also important for public officials to do their homework.

We learned that last week as at least one Barnwell County Council member did not thoroughly understand an important contract. Instead, he relied on the word of another councilman.

Now there is mistrust and anger where cooperation and confidence is needed.

We strongly urge public officials to do their homework by being as knowledgeable and prepared as they can. This includes reading documents regarding items that will be voted on and asking for additional information if needed. When in doubt, don’t vote.

Residents rely on public officials to make the best decisions for all of Barnwell County. Being well-informed and educated is an important factor in the decision-making process.

There also seems to be a lot of division, particularly regarding the Economic Development Corporation/Commission issue. Every time there appears to be progress made and a little bit of trust is formed, something else is done to tear it apart.

We encourage our public officials to work together to find solutions. That doesn’t mean you have to agree all the time, but compromise, cooperation, communication and respect go a long way.

That’s the only way Barnwell County is going to move forward and grow.