Huntsville’s own renaissance man Challen Stephens of The Huntsville Times wrote “Huntsville school board: elected or appointed?”:
“I yearn for folks with a business background being able to get involved and make these hard decisions,” said Rep. Phil Williams, R-Toney, who is leading the call to do away with the little district elections. “I’m a bit frustrated we’re to this point.”
He said the city board’s failure to plan for anticipated state budget cuts now threatens the economic health of the whole area. Williams said he is speaking to lawmakers about a proposal to place board appointments in the hands of the city council.
…”I haven’t heard an outcry from the people for changing anything,” said Rep. Mike Ball, R-Madison. “They’ve certainly got problems, but it didn’t happen over night … that’s why the people elected them. They’ve got to find a way forward.”
…Madison residents may apply to serve on the board. Each year the city council screens applicants, holds public interviews, and makes one appointment.
Madison Mayor Paul Finley said the system has worked “extremely well,” as voters hold council members accountable, while “apolitical” board members are freed from the competition between different parts of the city. “We’ve done redistricting four times in the last 11 years,” he said.
“There’s a lot of people who would not feel comfortable in an election process,” said Finley on Wednesday, “but they feel very comfortable in being appointed by a city council.”
The problems with the Huntsville Housing Authority should remind us of the dangers of unelected bureaucrats and appointed boards.
I like elections. Political Science professor and TV hunk Dr. Jess Brown of Athens State does too (was I indoctrinated during his classes?), from his discussion this morning with the “most interesting man in Alabama” Dale Jackson on WVNN (AM770 / FM92.5). While the HCS Superintendent’s job is technocratic, I’d be in favor of an elected Superintendent (like Madison County).
I also like partisanship. I think that municipal offices (Mayor, Council, School Board) should be elected in partisan elections. The benefits are: cost savings from not having a separate municipal election system, greater turnout, two shots at getting the best candidate (primary and general).