Originally created 11/07/96

Not in my backyard-philosophy re-elected entire school board



Pam Wilkins spent hours over several weeks with a phone glued to her ear, listening to Augusta voters explain why Richmond County school trustees should be voted out of office.

So on Wednesday, after all five trustees were re-elected, Mrs. Wilkins was dumbfounded as to what happened.

"I was very surprised because all I've heard is that people are tired of how they're doing things," she said. Mrs. Wilkins, a hairdresser with children in the school system, worked the phones to get voters to support the $115 million school bond issue, which passed Tuesday.

As predicted by political observers, voters used the "not in my backyard" philosophy when casting their ballots: Change on the board was needed elsewhere, not with their trustee and not in their district.

"If they had to run against everybody in the entire county and had everybody in the entire county voting for them, they would've been gone," Mrs. Wilkins said.

But school board voting is done by districts and four of the five trustees had no problem winning reelection. Trustee Y.N. Myers Jr. won 69 percent of his District 5 vote, followed by Trustee Cherie Foster with 63 percent in District 10 At-Large. In District 4, Andrew Jefferson won with 58 percent and in District 8, Mary Oglesby won with 54 percent.

The sole chance for an upset ended in District 1 when Trustee Adna Stein squeaked through with 198 more votes than his opponent, Kay Prince Raney.

"After I saw the slate of candidates, I didn't think any one of us would be defeated, but I thought any one of us would have a (tight) race," Mr. Stein said Wednesday. "And it turned out to be me."

It was unusual that his was the close race, because Mr. Stein typically receives favorable comments from parents, teachers and voters who often criticize other trustees.

"I was surprised at some of the races that were real close," said board President Ken Echols, who was not up for reelection Tuesday.

Mr. Stein and Mr. Echols saw a message of redemption in the election results, with both saying they believe voters have said the board has turned itself around and is doing a good job.

"People have been given a second chance now, so to speak, and I think the board needs to respond in a positive way and move ahead," Mr. Echols said.