Frank Myers, the Muscogee County School Board’s most outspoken critic of the district’s administration, has reconsidered his decision and said Thursday he is seeking re-election.
“I’ve had a change of heart,” he says in a video posted on his Facebook page. “I’ve had a lot of encouragement about people wanting me to run again for the District 8 seat.”
The Muscogee County Elections and Registration Office confirmed Myers qualified Thursday.
The other District 8 candidate who has qualified is retired urologist Philip Schley, who served on the board for 21 years (1972-81 and 1998-2010), including as chairman for nine years.
Myers, a self-employed lawyer, and District 2 representative John Thomas announced in January they wouldn’t run in the May 22 election. Thomas, an IRS agent, said on the All On Georgia website that he was speaking for Myers as well when he wrote, “To accomplish anything with the school board, there must be five votes. 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.”
Referring to that article, Schley said in a phone interview Thursday with the Ledger-Enquirer, “I find Mr. Myers’ decision to run again interesting. I thought his reasons for not running again as expressed by Mr. Thomas made sense. We have a good team gathered to get me elected, and I look forward to pushing for positive action and restoring accord on the board of education.”
The Ledger-Enquirer asked Thomas whether he also will decide to seek re-election before qualifying week ends at noon Friday.
“For my part, I have not changed my mind,” Thomas said in an email. “Circumstances in my job, my family and my goals for the next few years have changed since I was initially elected, and I could not guarantee that I will still be living in Muscogee County in the next four years. ... I will continue to support Frank and those efforts for transparency and accountability that we worked on during our terms together on the board.”
Myers says in his video, “We spend over $5 million a week on public education in Columbus, Georgia, and we’re not getting the job done. ... The majority of third-graders in our school system cannot read at grade level. We necessarily know that 90 percent of those children are going to end up on public assistance or in prison. We know that right now, and we’re not doing anything about it.”
In his video, Myers addressed the “people who put up Dr. Philip Schley to run against me: The idea that y’all thought you would run me out of this race with Dr. Schley, I really had decided that I didn’t want to run, but then I started thinking about the stakes that are involved in this race, and, the truth is, there could not be a better race, as a marquee race, to determine the future of our school system, because Dr. Schley is a relic from the past and part of the problem. He was the one who was on the school board when the decline of this public school system started happening.”
Asked for his response, Schley said, “I don’t think Mr. Myers’ description of the Muscogee County School District as a problem is accurate. We have an excellent public school system here in Columbus. As with all institutions, there are things that can be improved, and I look forward to working toward improving them.”
Myers concluded in his video, “I think John Thomas and I have started a new direction, and hopefully we’ll get some other good people elected, and we can do better, and we should do better. ... We can fix crime and poverty if we fix our school system, but we have to have the desire to do that.”
Qualifying, which began at 9 a.m. Monday, continues until noon Friday. The deadline to register to vote in the state primary and local nonpartisan 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.
As of 5 p.m. Thursday, these are the qualified candidates for the nine-member school board’s other seats up for re-election this year:
▪ At-large: incumbent Kia Chambers, a broker for Prestige Property Brokers; Tony McCool, a supply chain manager for NCR Corporation, who hasn’t announced his candidacy but qualified Thursday.