Of all the public figures whose names were in the news in 2004, few flew into the radar more often than Lee Muns.
With the end of 2004 comes the end of Muns' single term as a member of the Columbia County School Board. He continues to serve as the chairman of Columbia County's Republican Party, and as a member of the state's Professional Standards Commission that governs teacher credentials.
Muns' decision to forego a second term on the School Board was a good one. He had allowed his service as a non-partisan trustee to come into conflict with his post as a very-partisan party official. He kept the party leadership position, and now faces what may be a difficult re-election effort in the spring.
In part, Muns will have to fight for re-election because his greatest asset as a public figure is also his biggest liability. In his four years as a school trustee, he often was unable to draw the line between outspokenness and rudeness, sometimes gaining allies and then losing them all within the span of a single diatribe.
What he lacked in tact, however, Muns often made up in his willingness to confront uncomfortable issues. He frequently stood out as the lone "nay" vote on items that came before the board, and though rarely successful, his attempts at obstruction served a useful purpose as a counterpoint to bureaucratic inertia.
With Mike Sleeper replacing Muns on the School Board, meetings of the elected body will undoubtedly be shorter and more civil. But the pressure for other trustees, especially Sleeper, to demonstrate a willingness to give voice to unpopular opinions, even in the face of likely defeat, will now be greater because of the example set by Muns.
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