When school board member Aqeel Khatib "A.K." Hasan began to raise questions about Richmond County schools Superintendent Charles Larke, some began to raise questions about Mr. Hasan.
Specifically, they said, the new 9th District representative doesn't actually live on east Augusta's Sibley Street with his sister.
At a news conference Monday, Mr. Hasan addressed the rumor by saying anyone who doubted his residency could go to Sibley Street and talk to his neighbors.
On Tuesday, his neighbors responded with sincerity, humor and a little bit of incredulity.
"Of course he lives here," said next-door neighbor Dorinda Carver. "And, he's a good neighbor," said the Winston-Salem University graduate and Richmond County substitute teacher.
Sarah King lives across the street from Mr. Hasan's 835 Sibley St. address.
"I've lived here for 30 years, and, yes, he lives there," she said, adding that "he's a nice, knowledgeable young man."
However, Ms. King said she opposes her neighbor's recent queries about Dr. Larke's contract and salary.
"I feel Dr. Larke is doing a good job and is deserving of his compensation. He has the educational credentials and his qualifications warrant his salary," she said. "I'm just being honest."
Another Sibley Street resident, Wanda Black, has two children, ages 11 and 14.
"He's a great neighbor, and he has helped me with some school issues and I've gotten immediate results," said the licensed practical nurse at the Tri-Development Center of Aiken.
The neighbors weren't the only ones talking.
While a reporter was canvassing the street Tuesday afternoon, Mr. Hasan came out to get his mail.
He said that contrary to some public opinion, his actions are not based on envy of the superintendent's salary or success.
"It's not about comparing me with him. It's about making the public aware of how his contract is structured. I'm just letting people know exactly how much money he really earns, " he said.
"And, for my critics who feel because I'm black and he's black, that I should not be able to challenge him ... that doesn't resonate with me. I've been professional and objective the entire time," he said.
For the record, Mr. Hasan said, he lives at the Sibley Street house along with younger sister Cynthia Walker and her 14-year-old son.
Mr. Hasan said he has lived in many residences since 2003, including North Augusta and Augusta - in the Pepperidge subdivision, on Carrie Street and on Brandywine Place.
Mr. Hasan, a 1972 graduate of Lucy C. Laney High School, was chosen as the school board's first black president in 1983-84, he said.
The 50-year-old divorced grandfather said he has no interest in Dr. Larke's position.
"First of all, I'm not qualified. I'm a politician, and you must have an education background," he said.
Reach Timothy Cox at (706) 823-3217 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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