Bartow schools Post 5 candidates take on law and board distractions
by Mark Andrews
Jun 20, 2012 | 1883 views | 0 0 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Anna Sullivan answers the question if her appointment to the Post 5 Bartow County school board was legal. Her opponent Greg Bowen listens to her response.
SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
Anna Sullivan answers the question if her appointment to the Post 5 Bartow County school board was legal. Her opponent Greg Bowen listens to her response. SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
Bartow County Board of Education Post 5, Adairsville, candidates Anna Sullivan and Greg Bowen answered questions from the panel Tuesday at The Grand Theater ranging from the status of the Post 5 seat to distractions and confrontations on the school board.

Mike Garcia of WBHF began by asking Sullivan, who was appointed to the Post 5 seat in February, if she was in legal standing to hold the seat. The Bartow County Superior Court currently is making an inquiry into accusations that she is not in legal standing to hold the seat.

"I'm glad someone has finally asked what I think about this," Sullivan said. "When the school board position came open it was widely reported. There was no hidden process there. I believe the school board members felt we needed representation all the time from the second-largest voting precinct in our county and I think the process they followed was to look at the laws and we have a state law and a local law that appear to conflict.

"I believe they made a decision based on what they thought was the best interest as well as what would follow the law and I think that yes, I think that making that appointment was a good decision. The book of law does not specifically prohibit appointment and I think they thought it was in the best interest of all the constituents in our county."

Bowen, who has previously served on Post 5 for the school board, answered whether he feels the accusations revolving around Sullivan's appointment will be a distraction after the election or after a court ruling.

"Of course, whenever you have any kind of disruption in the day-to-day operations, the school board has a lot of decisions to make, a lot of policies to set, you don't want this type of distraction or any of the other kind you see in the paper," Bowen said, adding he does not feel Sullivan is at fault for volunteering to serve on the board and being appointed. "I'm not running against Mrs. Sullivan, I'm running for the school board seat to represent our community.

"... I feel like I could bring stability to the board, I think that I could bring the experience, I've served on many boards ..., and you have to have that leadership to keep these things from getting out in the public and getting out of hand. I think you should always fight passionately for what you believe in, but it should be done in executive session."

Sullivan responded, "I do think that any time the board takes an action that causes the public to question that action, I don't consider that a distraction -- I consider that part of the process, I think that's what should happen. I think when people in the community have concerns they should bring those concerns forward ... I think we need open and frank discussion on our board about issues that concern our children."

Bowen was asked if voters should be concerned that he previously left Post 5 after serving his term to run for the office of State House District 14.

"I'm the only school board person from District 5, Adairsville, that has fulfilled a four-year term in, I would say, 20 years," Bowen said. "I asked the first time I ran that if you vote for me on this day that I'd work for you for the next four years. I'm doing that again tonight.

"I'm asking the voters if you vote for me on July 31, I'll work for you for the next four years. The reason I stepped off was to run two years later and I didn't want to diminish that thought pattern that I had quit in the middle of a term to run for another office, so I've already proven with my past history that I won't do that. I feel when you legally make a commitment that you should keep that commitment.

"Another thing I disagree with that's happening on the board that I would like to see a policy on, is I'd like to see if there should be a two year waiting period; if you serve on the school board, you should not be able to take a paying job with the school system for at least two years."

Sullivan asked Bowen if he supports a two-year waiting policy for the school board if he also supports the same policy for his own company.

For more on the school board race, read The Daily Tribune News.