The list of candidates for seats on the Muscogee County School Board has grown by two this past week:
▪ Wednesday, David Merlin Wright entered the District 8 race.
▪ Friday, Robert Mathias Roth entered the District 6 race.
Wright told the Ledger-Enquirer via email that he retired as a captain in the Muscogee County Sheriff’s Office in 1999 after 27 years and three months of service. He worked for approximately 18 months in Stowers Elementary School at Fort Benning as a substitute teacher and special-education aide until he resigned last month to run for the MCSD board. He also was an adjunct professor associate professor for 17 years, teaching courses such as criminal justice, police administration or forensics at Troy University’s Fort Benning and Phenix City locations.
He is running for this public office, Wright said, “because I'm driven by ideas and a vision, which I will talk about later. ... Things will always remain the same unless you step forward do things different to make a change for the betterment of everyone.”
Wright added, “The voters can look forward to me as a candidate to be actively seeking answers as to what the board's priorities should be in Columbus for District 8 and Columbus overall.”
Roth told the Ledger-Enquirer via email that he retired as a colonel from the U.S. Army and now works from his home as director of government business development for Vertex Solutions, a learning development and services company based out of Urbana, Ill. “They specialize in learning technology as well as on-site learning services support,” he said.
He is seeking this public office, Roth said, because “it's about serving the American people. In 1985, I entered active duty into the U.S. Army, and I spent 26 years serving our country and people in need. Each of us have to figure out our purpose in life, and for me it's selfless service to help make our community a great place to live for families.”
His last position on active duty, Roth said, was at Fort Benning, where he was director of training and doctrine for the Maneuver Center of Excellence.
Roth and Wright made their decisions public when they filed with the Muscogee County Elections and Registrations Office their Declaration of Intent to accept campaign contributions. Filing a DOI form allows someone to raise money for a political campaign, but no candidates officially are on the ballot until they qualify.
Qualifying for the 2018 local nonpartisan races runs from 9 a.m. March 5 until noon March 9. The deadline to register to vote in those elections is April 23. 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.
In a joint announcement Tuesday at the All On Georgia website, District 2 representative John Thomas wrote that he was speaking for Frank Myers of District 8 when he said they won’t run for a second four-year term. Myers, a self-employed lawyer, and Thomas, an IRS agent, have been the nine-member board’s most outspoken critics of the Muscogee County School District administration.
The only other announced candidates for the school board this year are 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.
The other board seats up for election this year are District 4 (incumbent Naomi Buckner, a special-education teacher in Chattahoochee County), District 6 (incumbent and vice chairman Mark Cantrell, CEO of Action Buildings) and the board’s lone countywide seat (incumbent and chairwoman Kia Chambers, a real-estate broker).
Chambers told the Ledger-Enquirer on Saturday she will seek re-election. Cantrell told the Ledger-Enquirer in a voicemail Friday he will decide within the next week. Buckner didn’t reply to the Ledger-Enquirer’s query before deadline.