Rarely does the end of the election filing period bring good tidings; this year was quite the exception.
Since four Republican members of the much-maligned School Board failed to file for reelection, we know that nearly half of the board’s seats will be filled by newcomers.
Among those leaving the nine-member board is Jane Goins – the board’s Methuselah. Goins joined the board when Apples were just something students ate – not used to complete assignments and communicate with the world.
Those of you with long memories may wonder why we are faulting Goins for her nearly 30 years on the School Board when we recently praised Mayor Pro Tempore Vivian Burke for her longevity. The answer is Goins was just a seat-filler for much of her reign – a show-horse trotting about when a work-horse was desperately needed. And her board colleagues did the school system a grave disservice when out of deference they chose Goins to replace Donny Lambeth – the ultimate work-horse – as chair of the board instead of a more capable member like John Davenport Jr.
Buddy Collins, Marilyn Parker and Jill Tackabery are the other Republicans exiting. The new board will invariably still be Republican-controlled, but we hope the new members have the grit to take a stand for teachers and students instead of toeing the GOP line. Most on the current members lack spines. While school boards in Guilford, Durham and other counties fight tooth and nail to maintain the dignity of their teachers and safeguard the futures of their students, our folks equivocate, offering only subdued objections to repressive policies for fear of offending the Republican gods.
In other filing news, none of the incumbents on the 21st District Court bench will face challengers this fall. This means Judge Denise Hartsfield is all but assured another term on the bench. About two years ago, when Hartsfield faced specious ethics charges, many predicted her demise. She never wavered, though, from her commitment to service. Even as she served a short suspension, Hartsfield continued to build bridges by volunteering, mentoring and taking every opportunity to warn young people about the perils of being entangled in the criminal justice system.
Her service became her penance. Her faith and the support of the community – those who knew and loved her long before she was “Judge” Hartsfield – was steadfast. As a result, like the mythical phoenix, Denise emerged from the ashes to soar even higher. Let her story be an example to all of us who have or may find ourselves down for the count.