Muscogee County School Board representatives Frank Myers and John Thomas, the nine-member panel’s most outspoken critics of the administration, won’t seek re-election.
They made their announcement Tuesday at the All On Georgia website, where Thomas wrote that he was speaking for Myers as well.
“To accomplish anything with the school board, there must be five votes,” Thomas wrote. “Frank and I have evaluated our tenure on the board to this point, and looking ahead to the future, we have done the math. We will not have five votes on any of the issues that are most important to us.”
Thomas, an IRS agent, represents District 2. Myers, a self-employed lawyer, represents District 8. Both are in their first four-year terms and would have faced the only candidates who have announced their intention to run for a seat on the board this year: Kar-Tunes Car Stereo owner James “Bart” Steed, whom Thomas defeated in the four-way District 2 race during the 2014 election, and retired urologist Philip Schley, who served on the board for 21 years (1972-81 and 1998-2010), including as chairman for nine years, in District 8.
Schley and Steed told the Ledger-Enquirer in phone interviews Tuesday they are surprised they won’t be campaigning against an incumbent, although Steed had heard “some hints” that Thomas wouldn’t run again.
“I had anticipated that he would put up a signification scrap,” Schley said of Myers. “... I’m pleased Mr. Myers sees that his opinions are not carrying the weight that he would like them to.”
Steed said he wishes Thomas “the best,” but he called Thomas and Myers “two peas in a pod” and criticized them — “mainly Frank,” Steed said — for being “totally disrespectful and rude and crude” with their comments to fellow board members and Muscogee County School District officials.
In his article, Thomas wrote that Steed and Schley “represent the continued unquestioning support of the administration. Their presence as members of the board will only serve to keep Muscogee County schools on the path to failure.”
Steed insisted, “I’m not going to be a yes man,” and Schley said he hopes to bring “comity back to the board.” Schley added in a follow-up voicemail, “I have just read Mr. Thomas’ rant. It does not deserve a comment.”
The Ledger-Enquirer tried to interview Thomas and Myers on Tuesday. Thomas declined, saying all he has to say about this decision is in his essay, and Myers wasn’t reached for comment.
The other seats up for election on the board are District 4 (incumbent Naomi Buckner, a special-education teacher in Chattahoochee County), District 6 (incumbent Mark Cantrell, CEO of Action Buildings) and the board’s lone countywide seat (incumbent Kia Chambers, a real-estate broker). Buckner, Cantrell and Chambers haven’t announced their whether they will seek re-election.
Qualifying for the 2018 local nonpartisan races runs from 9 a.m. March 5 until noon March 9. April 23 is the deadline to register to vote in those elections. Advance in-person voting will be April 30 through May 18 in the City Services Center, 3111 Citizens Way. May 22 will be Election Day for those races.