Houston school board picks 3 finalists for vacant post

PERRY — The list of nine applicants for a vacant Houston County school board post was narrowed to three Tuesday as the board selected finalists at its regular meeting.

The District 5 seat was held by Pamela Greenway until her death in March. The board picked Lisa Coody, Helen M. Hughes and T. Rabb Wilkerson as finalists for the position. The vote was 5-1, with board member Fred Wilson voting no.

Eight of the nine hopefuls addressed the board at its Monday work session. Applicant Daniel Murray was not able to attend Monday’s or Tuesday’s meetings, board Chairman Tom Walmer said.

Coody, 43, of Warner Robins said she is an attorney with real estate and business law experience.

“But I believe my best asset is my love of education,” Coody told board members Monday. During her term on the school council at Perdue Primary, the school initiated and implemented a bus safety plan, she said, and her experience in law and business would be a plus for the board.

Following her presentation, Coody said in a response to Walmer’s questions that she saw her role on the board as ensuring that all policies are carried out with the best use of taxpayers’ money for the betterment of students now and in the long run. She added that if she felt she did a good job, “I would muster the courage” to run for election in 2010.

Hughes, 53, of Bonaire said she is a former teacher who is now vice president and office manager for Hughes Honda. She’s been a volunteer in the past for the board and has served on the oversight committee for the 2002 and 2007 SPLOST efforts, as well as the PTA at Bonaire Elementary and Bonaire Middle schools.

“The opportunity to serve is one of the best reasons to serve the community,” Hughes said. “There are great opportunities and huge challenges ahead with the economy and the new Veterans High School.”

She said she saw her role as a board member to “first, learn what’s going on, then to support the system and encourage its continued development.” She added she would run for the office in the 2010 elections.

Wilkerson, 40, of Bonaire heads a law firm in Warner Robins and has served as the county’s juvenile public defender. He ran unsuccessfully against Greenway in the 2000 primary election for the same post.

He said his work with troubled youths has led him to believe the roots of much bad behavior lie in a lack of respect for authority.

“There is no quick solution. We can’t go back to the days of ‘Leave it to Beaver,’ but someone’s got to do something,” he said. His work as a trial attorney requires him to have an open-minded approach when solving problems, he added.

Wilkerson said he saw his role as a board member as one who brings his ideas to the table and then works as a team with the others. He said he would run for election in 2010 if selected.

The person selected would serve until next year’s countywide election. After that, the seat would be up for election in 2012.

Walmer said the board is scheduled to make a selection at a called meeting at 6 p.m. May 21 at the board office in Perry.

The person picked would be able to attend new board member orientation at the Georgia School Boards Association summer conference in June.

To contact writer Jake Jacobs, call 923-6199, extension 305.