Mon, Feb. 17

Editorial: Fairness questions abound with Mingus board appointment

With school district consolidation again becoming front and center in the Verde Valley, skeptics are going to see political motivations in the Mingus Union School Board’s effort to leave John McTurk’s seat vacant until voters can decide the best person for the job.

There is probably some truth in that. Should pro-consolidation candidates dominate the choices County School Superintendent Tim Carter is faced with making the appointment to fill McTurk’s seat, Mingus runs the risk of putting a dent in the school board’s anti-consolidation solidarity.

But the matter of logistics also has to be considered in this decision. This is an election year, and the clock is quickly ticking on the drop-dead date in which Superintendent Carter would leave the position vacant anyway.

With March 16 being the first day for prospective school board candidates to circulate petitions to have their names placed on the November ballot, Carter has said he would leave the Mingus position vacant at that point anyway. He believes appointing someone to the position when an election process has begun would give that person an unfair advantage going into the November election.

It’s best at that point, Carter believes, to have the position remain vacant and leave the matter entirely up to voters.

That makes sense.

But it also bears emphasis that Carter already has publicly announced that he is accepting letters of interest from community members to fill the vacancy on the Mingus board.

Those interested in serving have until Feb. 21 to submit their letters of interest to Carter. Further, he has announced that he will interview those candidates Feb. 24 and announce the appointment Feb. 26.

In this case, the question of fairness centers on shelving a process just because the Mingus School Board wants to leave the position vacant. And if this is an exercise in consolidation politics, then the fairness of it all is even more suspect.

In the event that people already have tossed their hat into the ring and submitted letters of interest to Carter, is it fair to them to say thanks but no thanks based on the whims of the Mingus board?

Or, is that Feb. 26 appointment date pressing just a bit too close to the March 16 date in which Carter would opt out of appointing someone to the position? If an appointment after March 16 would give someone an unfair advantage in a November election, wouldn’t a Feb. 26 appointment do the same?

Ultimately, regardless of what the Mingus Union School Board prefers, the decision on whether or not to appoint is Mr. Carter’s call and his alone.

And no matter what he does, he is walking on the thin ice of what is fair and what is not.

Stay tuned.

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