Friday, December 30, 2011

Six for District 6 ... so far

Half a dozen people have applied for the District 6 school board seat left vacant when Tim Morgan was elected to an at-large seat in November,  with the application deadline looming at 3 p.m. Monday.  The eight current members of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board plan to hear applicants' pitches at 1 p.m. Tuesday; if time allows, they'll discuss and possibly select an appointee that afternoon. If not, they'll meet again at 4 p.m. Thursday . Both special meetings are open to the public.

Here are the names so far:

Scott Babbidge of Matthews,  a Republican who filed to run for the at-large seat but withdrew when there were four Republicans seeking the three seats.

E. Thomas Bowers of Charlotte,  a Democrat and progressive political activist.

Larry Bumgarner of Mint Hill,  an unaffiliated voter who has frequently run for school board,  including this year.  His comments will be familiar to readers of this blog.

Angelica P. Castaneda-Noorbakhsh of Charlotte,  whom I've been told is a leader in the Latino networking and advocacy group Enlace Charlotte.  I can't find her under any variation of that name in voter records.

Michael Orlando Jones of Matthews,  a name that's new to me.  Voter records show a Michael Orlando Jones who's a Republican living in District 1 and a Michael O. Jones who's a Democrat living in District 2.  To be considered for the District 6 appointment,  applicants must be registered to vote there.

Bolyn McClung of Pineville,  a Republican who's also familiar to readers of blog comments.  He served on the panel led by former Gov. James Martin that advised CMS on construction strategies after a failed 2005 bond vote and is a regular at school board meetings.

I'll get the applications next week and learn more about these folks.  It'll be interesting to see if there's a last-minute surge of filing;  in recent years,  open seats have drawn big crowds of applicants.  Rumors have been floating that this vacancy,  which has two years left to serve,  might entice former board Chair Wilhelmenia Rembert , who served five years in an at-large post and lives in District 6.  Morgan says he knows of two more people who definitely plan to apply Monday and one who's considering it.

There's also been speculation about how the board will make a choice.  Will they pick someone similar to Morgan, a moderate Republican?  Will the Democrats who hold a majority push someone from their party,  even though the south suburban district is heavily GOP?  A look at other appointments indicates anything could happen.

The two most recent vacancies occurred at the end of 2008,  when Vilma Leake and George Dunlap became county commissioners and left openings in Districts 2 and 3,  respectively.  Nineteen people applied for District 2 and 22 for District 3,  though only 17 ended up making speeches for each opening  (some withdrew,  were deemed ineligible or just didn't follow through).  Democrats and African Americans make up a majority of both districts.  The board chose Kimberly Mitchell-Walker, a black Democrat,  for District 2.  James Ross, a black Republican, got the District 3 seat,  ruffling some Democratic feathers.  Both ran for office the following year and lost.

In 2006, unaffiliated at-large member Kit Cramer resigned and 40 people signed up to take her place. The board chose Trent Merchant, also an unaffiliated voter. I still grin when remembering the article I wrote to introduce him: An Observer researcher found a 2002 article describing him as a young Atlanta actor who got frustrated with noisy audience members.

"Get the f--- out!" Merchant yelled,  according to that clip.  "Either shut up or leave!"

Although he did earn a reputation for colorful commentary,  Merchant never used those particular phrases with his colleagues.  He was elected to the at-large seat the following year.

Finally,  the last time the board appointed a District 6 representative was in August 2005,  during an election season.  Republican Lee Kindberg resigned with four months left on her term and endorsed Democrat Liz Downing,  who was running for the seat,  as her fill-in.  Some board members balked at appointing someone who was campaigning,  but Downing got the nod over eight other applicants.  (She was defeated by Republican Ken Gjertsen in November.)  In one of the odder twists, Republican County Commissioner Bill James had offered to represent the district on both bodies to fill the gap before the election.

Hmm ... no word from James about the school board this time around. Then again, some commenters have suggested he's got his eye on becoming Mayor of Ballantyne now.


Anonymous said...

Hmmmmm-Wilhelmenia Rembert. Remember when she was defeated in her last run for at large seat in 2003. She was quoted in the Observer as saying "The community elected elected three white people. Does that make race an issue? I would put my qualifications up with anybody." (Of course then Observer columnist was using his column to imply racism in the results). And she described the end of busing as being for "the convenience of the most able and most advantaged in the community." despite the fact that she was an at large representative, supposedly representing the entire county. She received absolutely no criticism for these statements from the Observer editorial board. However, I think it is quite obvious that she would not be a good or fair representative for District 6.

So if she is a candidate what will happen? Will the majority on the board throw District 6 "under the bus" so to speak? And if they do will the editorial board care?

Anonymous said...

Oops--left out Don Hudson's name as the columnist.

Wiley Coyote said...

We're still not sure where Vilma Leake lives.....

So appointing anyone to the District 6 seat is a crapshoot...

Anonymous said...

What ever happened to Ramirez?

Anonymous said...

Scott is the most qualified and actually has a interest plus knowledge of the dirt on the board. He is conservative and will set a trend of common sense thinking on the board. Something district 6 has not seen in a long time. We dont need another black person or another with Charlotte Chamber ties. Clean the system and do it now.

Anonymous said...

This appointment will be a good indication of the intent of the board majority. Do they want to work fairly for all of the community, thus making sure district 6 is fairly represented, or will they appoint someone who will toe the party line and possibly work against the best interests of district 6 families?

Anonymous said...

Judging by his comments during the last campaign, Scott Babbidge would be a poor choice. He seems like an angry sort without any good ideas how to improve schools.

I'm hoping for Bolyn's appointment, but I think that with the composition of the board, he won't have much chance.

It looks like Tim Morgan's choice to give up his seat was a big mistake. We can expect the new BOE and super to put the kabbash on many school reform efforts of the last decade. Watch as CMS takes a trip back in time.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you, 3:19, that Bolyn would be the best choice among those who have applied. He is very knowledgeable about the system, both local and state. And he does not seem to have an axe to grind.

If the board makes a blatantly political choice for district 6 rep, suburban voters will quickly learn the price for not getting out to vote.

Wiley Coyote said...

Scott Babbidge would be the best appointee, although the entire board and Superintendent are pretty much neutered by Federal and State mandates, rules and regulations.

All the BOE and Superintendent do is shuffle funds around and if the voters in Mecklenburg County get snookered as they do from time to time, they'll throw some bond money their way to play with.

As a reminder, we're still playing with bond monies from years ago even though we've closed schools, need to close more, update others and build other schools where needed.

Anonymous said...


Bolyn is Timmy's boy, talked up by the little Morgan brother. That alone makes him a horrible choice for the position.

Larry: good man. Needs to stay retired.

Scott: never should have dropped out. Will Win the position when up next year. Best choice of the current six.


Anonymous said...

Bolyn McClung has been a constant advocate for quality education for all children. He will be a great addition to the CMS board.

Anonymous said...

The appointee won't make much difference for the next 2 years, how the board leans is already set with just the 8 current members.

Someone like Babbidge (remember, he said education is the Babbidge family business before he quit the campaign, after doing zero fundraising and is purely a GOP party lapdog - all talk no action) or Larry would do nothing but whine and groan about the decisions being made. In short, they'd contribute nothing positive to the Board's business as they'd disagree with everything just to disagree to make a platform for their re-election.

What's interesting in how many people have talked solely to Morgan about this position - remember his lapdog campaign supporter who whined over and over about how people were painting him unfairly about filling his spot? Seems like Morgan has a lot of influence in the process after all, so where is she now? Probably working on his next campaign for Commissioner.

Scott Babbidge said...

Anon 4:51, you have proven that you know nothing about me. I think if you were to actually go back and listen to comments I made before I withdrew (which by the way was my decision and mine alone, based on my word and my principles) you would actually come to the conclusion that I'm not a naysayer. In fact, if you spent the time to get to know what I stand for you would know that I am a believer in things like divergent thinking and believe we are doing our kids a disservice by teaching them every question has only one correct answer, when the real world demands we deliver graduates who are able to look at problems from multiple angles and come up with many possible answers. You would also know that I believe we owe it to taxpayers, and teachers, and students - to go line by line through the CMS budget and apply a Maersk type approach. That is, we identify every expenditure as exceeding, meeting or failing to meet expectations. Eliminating the redundancies and the failing items so that we can fully fund the things are working. That's hardly being a naysayer or a whiner.

Lastly, I encourage you to actually go talk to the leadership of the Mecklenburg GOP and ask them directly if I am a lap dog. Again, you will find out how very wrong about me you clearly are....

I am ready to serve the people of district 6 and all of Mecklenburg County and I look forward to being part of the solutions and not part of the problems.

Anonymous said...

CMeSS sucks - plain and simple. It is too big and should be sectioned off aligned by income. The cycle of poverty has repeated itself for over 40 years. What makes antone think the pattern can change. Throwing money down the drain hasn't helped. The moocher class will always mooch. It's in their blood.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone remember Nick Mackey and Rembert's support for him? Do board members care? Does the Observer care?

Unknown said...

it is a good post.