Wanted: Candidates committed to seeing job through

info@islandpacket.comAugust 8, 2013 

One bright spot to having to fill a Beaufort County school board seat less than a year after the last election is that we might be able to double up with a special election to fill a County Council seat left empty by another early departure.

Mike Sanz, the school board member who announced Tuesday that he was leaving the board to return to a district teaching position, should make sure that happens, given the requirements of state election laws.

That means his formal resignation has to be in by Sunday to set in motion the process that would fill his seat through a Dec. 3 special election. A replacement for former County Councilman Steve Baer, who resigned July 31, is to be chosen on that same date.

The second bright spot is that both serve the same district on Hilton Head Island. That should help keep down election costs, which were estimated at $36,000 when Baer announced his resignation.

We're not fans of elected officials who resign their seats before their terms are up. When you run for office, you make a commitment to the people you represent.

But we do recognize that circumstances can change. Former board member Steve Morello, who didn't run for re-election to the District 10 seat held by Sanz, should have resigned when his truck-driving job kept him away from board meetings for months at a time.

Sanz, whose term expires in 2014, says he thinks he can have an impact working in the district's alternative education program for middle school students with serious disciplinary problems. He begins the job Monday, and state law doesn't allow him to work for the district while serving on the school board.

He rejoins the teaching staff under a new superintendent, Jeffrey Moss, whom he helped hire in late February. Moss officially started the job July 1. District officials say his position as a school board member didn't influence their decision to hire him.

Sanz had his differences with the district's prior administration. In 2010, he was disciplined for sending a mass e-mail to fellow teachers from his school district account. He quit his job at H.E. McCracken Middle School in Bluffton after the 2011-2012 school year. As a newly elected school board member, he criticized district officials for thwarting his attempts to reach out to teachers and staff.

Looking ahead, we hope to see contested races for both of these seats. Local races all too often are uncontested. Baer ran unopposed in 2010. Sanz was the successful write-in candidate after no one filed for the newly drawn District 10 seat. School board candidates must turn in the signatures of at least 2.5 percent of the registered voters in the district to get on the ballot.

County Council seats are partisan. Candidates can file with political parties to get on the ballot or run as petition candidates.

We just ask the successful candidates to stick it out until 2014. If you can't commit to that, don't run.

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