April 27, 2014 

Civil and Magistrate Judge

The race for the civil and magistrate judge position has been slightly contentious. Emory Christian is challenging William Randall for the right to lead the court that sees as many as 19,000 cases annually. Randall charges that Christian’s name shouldn’t be on the ballot because she qualified as a candidate for magistrate judge, an elected position that does not exist. Randall took his case to the Bibb County Board of Elections and was denied. Randall’s tenure has not been without controversy. Years ago assistant magistrate judges were accused of taking “love offerings” for performing marriages, a practice that had predated Randall’s administration. But he has also tried, twice, to hire the mother of his grandchild, and his ridiculous assertion that the mother isn’t related to him is an exercise in semantic futility. That said, Christian’s experience gives no indication that she’s found her purpose in life. Her employment history has seen her bounced all over the country and internationally ending up as a hearing officer for Bibb County schools.

Randall has brought his courts into the 21st century with online filing of complaints and answers. He’s made it easier for law enforcement working the night shift to appear in court. Randall is not perfect, but he has served as civil and magistrate judge for 15 years. We see no reason to replace him with the competition.

We endorse William C. Randall.

Citizen Advisory Board: Amy Elton, Giles O’Neal, Philip Lengel, Hill Kaplan, Mary Lou Ezell, Betty Toussaint, Bill Curry, Leroy Mack, Gene Strouss. Editorial Board: Don Bailey, Sherrie Marshall, Charles E. Richardson.

Board of Education -- District7

There are two seats open on the Bibb County Board of Education -- District 7 and District 8 -- both at-large, meaning the candidates’ names will appear on every ballot in the county regardless of party. In District 7, the Rev. James Bumpus faces Daryl Morton. Bumpus served for a brief time, four months, on the school board as an interim member to fill the unexpired term of Bob Nickels in 2008. Bumpus helped the district, prior to his appointment, pass an ELOST and helped the system gain fiscal independence. Bumpus has been active on a number of not-for-profit boards. He’s concerned about graduation rates, alternative schools and believes in parent-student choice.

Daryl Morton also has an impressive resume when it comes to education. As an attorney, he successfully sued the school system for its illegal attendance policy in 1999. He also helped the system gain fiscal independence. He has a particular interest in students with special needs, and he believes every effort should be made to keep children in school. He would like to institute a policy requiring an evaluation of every child not promoted to the next grade, and he says the system has to deliver a quicker response to issues.

Both candidates have excellent track records when it comes to supporting public education. It’s too bad we have to make a choice. However, we do. Our choice is Daryl Morton.

Board of Education -- District 8

This race pits a lifelong educator and former Twiggs County superintendent, Wanda West, against Darren Latch, whose claim to fame, thus far, has been to put constant pressure on the previous administration. He attended meetings and used what he terms a “combative” approach.

West believes the district needs to embark on courageous conversations and develop a high-performance culture. She feels the district has been stuck between neutral and stop. The district needs to, in her opinion, look at what’s best for all the children in the district.

Though the last superintendent was hired before West’s tenure began, she was a member during some turbulent times. Still, she has to take some responsibility for the board’s dysfunction. She did, however, as president of the board, restore order and calm and set the board on the path to be productive again. She personally recruited Steve Smith to fill the interim superintendent’s position.

While West has some baggage, she is obviously more qualified and has the right temperament than her opponent. We support Wanda West.

Citizen Advisory Board: Amy Elton, Philip Lengel, Mary Lou Ezell, Bill Curry, Leroy Mack, Gene Strouss. Editorial Board: Don Bailey, Charles E. Richardson.

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