We’ve been asked the question a lot in recent days, by telephone call, through email, social media and even once by text message.
So here is the answer: John Campbell, Jo Ann Lowery, Boscoe Locklear, Gary Strickland, Loistine Defreece, James Martin and Randy Lawson.
Those are the seven members of the Robeson County Board of Education who are up for re-election in May 2016, with Campbell, Lowery and Lawson being at-large members, and the remaining four representing districts. Note that five of those running were on the stupid side of a split on the board that ran off a well-qualified out-of-county candidate in Rick Watkins in favor of a local person, Tommy Lowry, who didn’t even apply for the job but now has it. But no one on this board is blameless as there was the opportunity to hire the No. 2 candidate, who was bypassed for no other reason than that person’s dark skin.
We will keep saying this: We have nothing against Lowry, but he has been placed in a difficult position by the board, which has managed to make him a target. He was an accomplice as he could have said no, but we know as well his arm was twisted — and probably hard.
It was clear to us — and should have been to the board, which had information we will share later from surveys that asked what educators and the public wanted in their next superintendent — that the people wanted a move away from the status quo that would have meant an abandonment of good-old-boy politics that ended with Lowry’s assignment.
We try hard to understand why this school board has such disdain for process and infatuation with race, and why members don’t make their priority providing children in this county, two-thirds of whom are minority, the best resources possible so they can gain an education and a path to better life. We know that many of them are slaves to the people with deep pockets who use our politicians as pawns, depending on hauling voters to keep their acolytes in power.
But there is this as well: Our school board is not populated with high-achievers — people who understand the value of education because they have benefited from getting one. They are a pedestrian collection at best — and the school board will remain that way until we get better candidates.
We hope today’s editorial can serve as an impetus — and that more impressive candidates will step out from the shadows.
This newspaper historically has not endorsed candidates, doing so only once in recent memory, and that was in favor of our homegrown Mike McIntyre when he was seeking re-election to the 7th District of the U.S. House. And we are not willing today to say we will jettison that philosophy in advance of the May primary as it relates to school board, as tempting as we know it will be.
We will make that decision then, and it will depend heavily on who has jumped into the pool of candidates.
What we can promise is that when the school board election rolls around, we will freshen the memories of the voters who are now expressing outrage at the actions of some board members. The events of the last two weeks should not be forgotten when this county picks its new Board of Education.