Morton takes Bibb BOE seat; West retains post

lmorris@macon.comMay 20, 2014 

Wanda West retained her Post 8 seat on the Bibb County school board Tuesday by defeating her opponent, insurance agent Darren Latch.

With all but absentee ballots counted late Tuesday, West had 10,266 votes to 7,260 votes for Latch.

West will be joined on the board next term by newcomer Daryl Morton, 52, who won the Post 7 at-large seat going away.

Morton, a Macon attorney, won the seat with 11,068 votes over clergy educator James Bumpus, 49, who had 6,142 votes, not counting absentee ballots. The seat is being vacated by school board member Lynn Farmer.

The winners of the two school board posts come from different backgrounds, but they both said they want to improve the system and the board that governs it.

West said her win “is a validation from the community that they trust me ... to continue on a journey to do our very best to turn the system around. I’m excited because it’s exciting.”

She said there is still work to be done to “put teaching and learning first.”

West said she plans to continue to have the board set goals and said it needs to do strategic planning.

As a school board member for more than three years and a retiree from several education positions in Bibb County, West had said she wanted to remain on the board so she could continue educating students and improving the school system.

Her goals included a push to establish well-defined, organized protocols and procedures and to make sure stakeholders are informed. She recently suggested that the school board develop specific goals as it looks to hire a new superintendent.

When Morton learned that he had won the Post 7 seat, he said it was “overwhelming. Wow, that’s very gratifying.”

He attributed his win to the fact that he’s been in the community a long time.

“I’ve been supporting the school system a long time and a lot of people know me,” Morton said. “I worked very hard to communicate with the voters.”

One of the first things he would like to do is to “continue to work to restore public trust, demonstrate that the school board will act in a responsible manner when it comes to our tax dollars, ... and to just continue to move the system forward.”

Morton, who has volunteered in the school system, had said he’s not afraid to make his opinion known when things are not going right.

His goals include restoring public trust and helping the board establish effective governance over the superintendent and the school system.

The school board will soon be working with a new superintendent. Interim Superintendent Steve Smith’s contract is set to expire June 30. Current school board members are reviewing applications for his replacement.

To contact writer Linda S. Morris, call 744-4223.

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