The score when the game was over on Sept. 19 was Guilford County Republican Party 1 – Guilford County Board of Education 0.
Politics is a lot like sports. It doesn’t matter what the score is at the end of the half or even with 10 seconds left in the game. What matters, what goes down in the record books, is the score at the end of the game.
The Guilford County Board of Education won the first couple rounds in its battle with the Guilford County Republican Party over who got to choose the District 3 school board member, but it lost the game.
The Guilford County GOP refused to fold. Much to their credit, the Executive Committee of the Guilford County Republican Party continued to nominate Michael Logan, who, after nine months of waiting, is now the District 3 member of the Guilford County Board of Education.
If the Guilford County school board had been smart – or if it had more concern for education and less concern for partisan politics – it would have accepted Logan. Boards and commissions across the state for decades have been faced with similar situations – where the majority on the board didn’t like the nominee of the county political party. But since the board had no authority to name a nominee, they simply accepted the nominee of the party.
But the Guilford County school board decided to play hardball politics and, in the end, went down to defeat.
The school board had many opportunities to put an end the political machinations but chose to allow itself to continue to be distracted by a political issue that had nothing at all to do with education.
Before Logan was seated on Sept. 19, the Democrats had a 6-3 majority on the board. Now the Democrats have a 6-3 majority. So what was achieved by the recalcitrant school board? A lot of time that could have been spent on education was wasted. And not only did the school board waste its own time, it forced the North Carolina legislature to waste some of its time.
Clearly the intent of the state law passed in March was to take away the right of the school board to vote on the nominee of the Republican Party. The school board could have admitted defeat at that point. It was fighting against the state legislature, which has the authority to abolish the entire Guilford County Board of Education.
Instead, the school board found a legally defensible way to thwart the will of the legislature and appointed Bill Goebel, a registered Republican, to the school board in April, instead of Logan. That appointment may or may not have held up in court, but it clearly violated the intent of the legislation.
So the state legislature went back to the drawing board and wrote a new bill. When that became law on Aug. 17, Goebel was removed from the school board and, according to the law, whomever the Guilford County Republican Party Executive Committee nominated had to take the oath of office at the next regular meeting of the school board, which was Sept. 19.
But even then the school board was not able to admit defeat. Chair of the Guilford County Board of Education Deena Hayes went through the charade of reading the letter of resignation from Goebel at that meeting.
If Goebel had actually resigned at the Sept. 19 meeting, the Guilford County Republican Party Executive Committee, according to state law, would have had to nominate a replacement within 30 days, and that replacement would then take the oath of office at the next school board meeting. However, the Guilford County Republican Party Executive Committee had nominated Logan on Aug. 30. There is nothing in the law that allows a political party to pre-nominate a candidate in case there is a vacancy. According to the law, the party has 30 days after the vacancy occurs to make the nomination.
Seating Logan on the school board recognizes that Goebel was removed from the school board on Aug. 17. Any Guilford County Board of Education documents that portray Goebel as a school board member after that date should be corrected, but it is doubtful they will be.
What did the Democratic majority on the Guilford County Board of Education learn from this nine month long political distraction? Judging from their comments at the Sept. 19 meeting: nothing.