Recent vote against recording school board meetings was a setback for open government

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School Board Chairwoman Missy Jarrard

CLEVELAND, Ga. – The White County Board of Education’s 3-2 vote against making a video recording of its meetings and placing it on the school system website, was a setback for open government. It will not have the intended consequences and could easily be reversed in 2019, depending on the outcome of next week’s election.

A recording would have allowed those who, for a variety of reasons, cannot attend the meetings to see how the board operates and how their elected officials are performing, something most elected officials claim to want.

It is worth noting that thanks to Georgia’s Open Meetings and Open Records Act, the school board lacks the authority to prevent a video recording of the meetings from being made and placed on the Internet. It can only prevent placement on the school system website.

 

To their credit, Chairwoman Missy Jarrard and board member Charlie Bryson cast votes in favor of open government, but they were outvoted by Jon Estes, Charlie Thomas and Barry Vandiver.

Vandiver’s term will end in December thus eliminating one “no” vote. He will be replaced by Jeannette Gearing or Linda Erbele.

FetchYourNews reached out to all the school board candidates to see where they stand on the issue. Erbele did not return our calls.

School Board member Charlie Bryson

Gearing was quick to say she would vote in favor of open government if the issue resurfaces again next year.

“I think it’s a great idea. I try to attend as many meetings as I can, but I have children who participate in a lot of activities so I can’t always be there. I’m sure there are a lot of people just like me who can’t be at all the meetings but would like to keep up with what is going on. So, if I am elected, I will vote to record the meetings and place the video on the school website,” Gearing said.

Bryson said, “Absolutely, I would vote for it again, without a doubt. There is no better way to show transparency than by recording the meetings and placing the video on the website for everyone to see.”

Calls and emails to Bryson’s opponents John Solmon and Carly Adam went unanswered.

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that covers Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYN attracts 300,000+ page views per month, 3.5 million impressions per month and approximately 15,000 viewers per week on FYNTV.com and up to 60,000 Facebook page reach. If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of those counties, please visit us at FetchYourNews.com

 

 

 

 

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Nine candidates vie for county offices in May 22 primary

Election 2018, News

Mickey Cummings

CLEVELAND, Ga. — When the May 22 General Primary election arrives, White County voters will have to choose between two state representative candidates in District 8, three county commission candidates in District 2 and two school board candidates in District 2 and 4.

State Rep. Matt Gurtler (R-Tiger) is running for a second term in the General Assembly against Mickey Cummings, of Union County.

Gurtler is a pro-life, pro-gun incumbent who opposes subsidies and government interference in the free market. An Atlanta Journal-Constitution article reported that Gurtler was once threatened by Gov. Nathan Deal’s aide, Chris Riley, when Gurtler voted against the governor’s budget. Riley allegedly threatened to cut all funding for Gurtler’s district in retaliation.

State Rep. Matt Gurtler

Cummings earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Georgia and a masters degree in agriculture education from Clemson. He served for more than 20 years as Union County’s Extension Agent. He led the effort to develop the Union County Farmers Market that has had a $1 million annual economic impact on the district. He said he is running because the district has been isolated by a lack of leadership on the part of the incumbent.

Incumbent District 2 County Commissioner Lyn Holcomb has two challengers, Mike Boswell and Ricky Farmer. Boswell said he would like to do a better job of promoting agri-tourism and upgrading the county infrastructure.

Farmer said he wants to make sure that any industry attracted to White County does not hurt the small businessman. “Industry is a great thing but we’re a county of mostly small businesses,” he said. “I want industries that will come in and help the small businessman.”

Incumbent Charlie Bryson has drawn a pair of challengers for his District 2 seat on the Board of Education in Carly Adam and John Solmon. Bryson is a fire investigator by profession. Solmon is a small business owner and a member of the Mossy Creek Elementary School Governing Council. Adam is an administrative assistant at Pioneer RESA.

There is an open District 4 seat on the Board of Education where freelance journalist Linda Erbele and Jeannette Gearing, a substitute teacher, are the candidates.

Erbele said she is strongly opposed to school vouchers. “Vouchers don’t help anyone but the people who can already afford private school,” she said. “I will advocate for White County Schools and against vouchers anyway that I can. My goal is simple – to have the best school system in the state as part of a thriving, dynamic community.”

Gearing comes from a family of educators. She has worked as a substitute teacher for eight years and served on several school councils. “I’m very proud of how far our school system has come,” she said. “It has made great strides.” One thing she would like to see is more school counselors. “I believe we need one for each grade,” she said. Gearing feels White County schools are safe and she has mixed feelings about guns in schools: “I like the fact that we have school resource officers in every school. I’m not sold on the idea of teachers with guns.”

 

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that covers Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYN attracts 300,000+ page views per month, 3.5 million impressions per month and approximately 15,000 viewers per week on FYNTV.com and up to 60,000 Facebook page reach.If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of those counties, please visit us at FetchYourNews.com

 

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Nix will return to Board of Commissioners, Holcomb faces two challengers

Election 2018

Commissioner Edwin Nix

CLEVELAND, Ga. – Qualifying ended at noon today. The field is now set for the May 22 General Primary election.

District 2 County Commissioner Lyn Holcomb will have to defeat Mike Boswell, who lists his occupation as wastewater operator, and Ricky Farmer, the owner of a pet crematory, to serve another term on the Board of Commissioners.

District 3 Commissioner Edwin Nix, however, is unopposed and will return to the Board in January.

Charlie Bryson, a fire investigator, is the incumbent Board of Education member from District 2. Carly Adam, an administrative assistant, and John Solmon will challenge for that seat.

For a time, it appeared as though there would be no candidates in the District 4 Board of Education race, but on the final day of qualifying, two candidates stepped forward. Jeannette Gearing, a substitute teacher, and Linda Erbele, a freelance writer, qualified.

The state level race has incumbent District 9 State Representative Kevin Tanner (R) of Dawsonville pitted against Mark Hajduk (R) of Cumming.

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that covers Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of those counties, please visit us at FetchYourNews.com

Charlie Bryson

 

Carly Adam

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