Many questions asked during a debate for the two candidates vying for the Post 5 seat on the Bartow County Board of Education centered around the issue of Anna Sullivan being appointed to the seat earlier this year.
Sullivan said that local law doesn't specifically prohibit the board from appointing a member to fill a vacancy, and she said the board made a good decision when it chose to do so after former board member Larry Parker resigned.
"I think the school board members thought we needed representation all the time from the second largest voting precinct in the county," Sullivan said.
Fomer board member Greg Bowen, who is facing Sullivan in both the July 31 special election to finish Parker's term and primary election, said that the person who held the seat before he was elected to his first term in 2004 had been appointed. Once elected to the board, Bowen said the group crafted a policy that stated the board would not appoint members. The issue now is left for the courts to decide and is taking away from the board's goal, which is educating children, Bowen said.
"We don't need that distraction," he said.
And, while he thinks the issue is distracting the board, Bowen said it's not something that Sullivan brought on herself.
"She was simply one who stood up and said, 'I want to help,'" he said. "I'm not running against her. I'm running for the board."
Sullivan said that while she doesn't necessarily think the questions surrounding her appointment are a distraction, she does think they're an issue.
"I think we need open and frank discussion on our board about issues that affect children," she said.
Bowen applied earlier this year to be appointed to the open seat and, while the board selected Sullivan over him, he said it's all in the past and won't affect him should he win the election.
"This is déjà vu for me," he said. "I've done it before. You vote, and then you move on. They voted to select her, and that's fine. Congratulations."
Bowen opted not to seek re-election when his term expired in 2008, and Bowen said voters should not be concerned about that. In fact, he said that he was the first Post 5 representative in the last 20 years to complete a full term in office.
"If you vote for me on July 31, I'll work for you for four years," he said. "I believe when you make a commitment, you should follow through with that commitment."
On the issue of taxes and whether or not senior citizens should have lower school system property taxes or be exempt altogether, Sullivan said that while some communities have taken that step, it may be in the best interest to help provide for the school systems.
"We want to have the best educated children possible," she said. "That's the way that we have a strong community, and that's the way that we all benefit."
However, Bowen said the only fair tax is a flat tax and would like to see more taxes on money spent rather than money made.
"Then the people who have the most money, believe me, they're spending the most money," he said. "But, with the system that we have to work with, yeah, we have to find a way that people on fixed incomes that we can make it to where they are not overburdened."