Evans accountant Lawrence Hammond on Thursday announced his bid to become the first elected chairman of the Columbia County Board of Education.
Standing in front of the Evans Judicial Center before friends, family and supporters, Hammond said his sense of urgency and drive to get things accomplished are needed in a school board chairman.
"Whatever I do I look to improve it, and I have a deep sense of being pro-active," he said. "This is what our system needs, and this is the type of leadership I bring to the table."
Hammond, the father of twins who attend Riverside Elementary School, is the owner of Hammond Business Services and specializes in government and nonprofit accounting, he said.
The 40-year-old is also the vice chairman of the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce and an ex officio board member of the Senior Citizens Council.
This is his first try at political office. He said his business experience, civic work and familiarity with the community will make him a fair representative of the county.
He is the second candidate to announce an intention to seek the chairmanship. Board member Regina Buccafusco, a former board-appointed chairwoman, announced during a January meeting that she plans to seek the office.
For the first time, the post is open to a countywide vote and will be decided in November's general election.
Hammond said his key issues include school-system growth; planning for school construction; strengthening relationships among the board, the county commission and the county's state legislative delegation; and expanding vocational-tech classes.
He said that system growth is not slowing and that plans for a new Grovetown elementary school and Martinez middle school might come close to depleting the board's $90 million allotment for school construction.
The board, he said, must work with county planning staff to identify land for construction well in advance and work with builders and county staff to find a more efficient means of building schools.
That construction will come at a price to taxpayers, which could mean a millage increase to pay for a construction bond, Hammond said.
Communication with the county commission, which is drafting a list of capital improvements for a bond, is essential to keep from overburdening taxpayers, he said.
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