Elections are like a two-year-long breathing exercise: We inhale in even-numbered years, and exhale - mostly in relief - in odd-numbered years.
This is one of those years to inhale. Not in the way Bill Clinton says he didn't, though by the end of 2006 we all may wonder if everyone running for office isn't smoking something.
It's an election year, and for Columbia County, 2006 is a tremendously significant election year.
Thursday morning, when the School Board held its first meeting of the year, the trustees selected Wayne Bridges as their chairman for 2006. As elected representatives of their individual districts, the school board members' votes represented roughly 20,000 people.
The next time those trustees vote on a chairman, each of their votes will represent just one person: Themselves. Each of them will be among the county's eligible voters who will head to the polls in November to choose a county-wide elected chairman - or chairwoman - of the board.
The change, approved in a straw poll by voters and implemented this past year by the county's legislative delegation, will make the school board look more like the county commission. Each will have four district-elected members, with a chairman elected county-wide by voters.
That part sounds simple. Getting there, however, is more complicated than Advanced Placement calculus.
First, going from five districts to four requires redrawing the county. With one fewer district, the new map puts Mike Sleeper and Regina Buccafusco in the same seat. Because Buccafusco's term is expiring and Sleeper still has two years left, he keeps the seat.
He can have it, Buccafusco says; after serving the past year as a board-selected chairwoman, she plans to run for the elected position in November.
Lawmakers wanted to make sure the school board elections are eventually on a staggered cycle in which two members are elected one year, then three members two years later. That means the terms in some of the offices will be juggled during the next few years.
Thus, the person who wins this year as the county's first elected chairman - or chairwoman - will serve only two years before running for re-election to a full four-year term.
The only seat up for election this year is Mickey Blackburn's District 4, which next year will become District 2. The election will be for a full four-year term; Blackburn says she hasn't decided whether she will seek re-election.
In 2008, Bridges, whose current District 2 becomes District 1, is up for a four-year term, as is Roxanne Whitaker, whose District 3 becomes District 4. Sleeper, whose District 5 is combined with Buccafusco's current District 1 and becomes District 3, is up for a two-year term. And the chairman runs for a full four-year term.
As a result, in 2010, Districts 2 and 3 are up for four-year terms, and in 2012, Districts 1 and 4 and the chairmanship are up for four-year terms, re-establishing the current staggered cycle.
Whew. It's enough to take your breath away.
Prayers for Adams
One of this community's finer public servants is hospitalized, and certainly deserves our prayers and well-wishes.
Marjorie Adams, a member of Grovetown City Council, recently had a stroke. Just a few months ago, Adams was working to get toiletries, games and other comforts for war-wounded soldiers being treated at Eisenhower Army Medical Center; now she's a patient there herself.
Among the many things Adams has done for her community is her annual summer camp for children. She's already earned her angel's wings just for that, but we're not ready for her to try them on just yet.
Get well soon, Mrs. Adams.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to email@example.com.)
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