Newcomers dominate Jones school board candidacies

jkovac@macon.comApril 24, 2014 

Six candidates, none of whom has held public office before, are vying for two seats on the Jones County school board.

Three people are running in District 1, a seat long held by Delores Moon, who is stepping down.

Ken Hamilton, who made an unsuccessful bid for the board in 2010, faces a pair of newcomers, Tony Blash and Richard Cazort.

Hamilton, 54, an electrical designer, noted his contracting and budgeting experience, which he said would help when it comes to maintaining “a high quality of education, but still staying within our means.”

Blash, who teaches college communication classes, said that as state funding for schools has decreased, the Jones board has done “a great job maintaining our finances.”

Blash, 51, said he hopes to improve graduation rates and make sure students are “college ready.”

“I feel like I’m the candidate with direct classroom-instruction experience,” he said.

Candidate Richard Cazort said, “Listening is going to be a strong trait of what I propose.”

Cazort, 53, said the system has a looming decision on charter schools, adding that his experience as a construction estimator would be invaluable in many areas.

“There’s a lot of folks on the board that just don’t know anything about numbers,” he said.

Four of the six candidates for the two $3,600-a-year positions -- all except Cazort and Nancy Nash in District 3 -- emphasized that they have children in Jones County schools.

District 3 candidate J.D. Collins, who made an unsuccessful bid for the board in 2010, said, “What better way for a parent to get involved?”

Collins, 55, a career law enforcement officer with a son in high school, said, “I just want to make the system better for my son and the kids. No specific issue, it’s just to make the system stronger.”

The District 3 seat was previously held by longtime board member Larry Haskins.

Nash, 62, said she decided to run when Haskins didn’t.

Nash, who has been a teacher, guidance counselor and assistant principal, said education is “my love.” She said she has “a lot of knowledge that I feel that I can share.”

She said she would do her best to see that the board juggles its resources, “just to make sure that we take care of the money that we do have.”

Candidate Brady Skinner, an information technology analyst whose wife is a teacher in Jones County, spoke highly of the other candidates.

“I’m just an everyday person,” said Skinner, 39, who ran against Haskins four years ago and lost.

Skinner looks to further counselors’ efforts to help students find career paths.

“I want the children when they graduate to be suited to go to whatever field they want to,” he said, “whether it’s technical or trade or college.”

Contact writer Joe Kovac Jr. at 744-4397.

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