By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Candidates face voters
NAACP hosts forum on local offices
BoE candidates
BoE candidates Verdell Jones, Carolyn Carter Smith, Marcus Scott IV, Carol Guyette and Charlie Frasier sit on the stage at Thursday’s forum. - photo by Photo by Lauren Hunsberger
The NAACP hosted its final political Action Forum at Brewton Parker Thursday night.
The first part of the forum was for Liberty County sheriff candidates. But challenge Mark Floyd was the only one to show up. Incumbent Don Martin said he was unable to attend.
“I had other engagements that were very important,” Martin said the next day.
In his opening statement, Floyd said his priority would be children, focusing on educating and disciplining them early in hopes of preventing them from growing up to be criminals and drug abusers.
During the brief question portion, Floyd said he would accomplish his priority by increasing the presence of deputies in the community. He said they would be better acquainted with the neighborhoods to learn which cars belong and which don’t.
He also said that he wants to improve communication between the community and law enforcement.
“I want kids to realize that a policeman can be a nice person,” Floyd said, expounding that children too often only know police when a parent or sibling gets in trouble with the law and then harbor negative feelings toward police.

School board
The other races the forum helped unpack was for three board of education seats. Verdell Jones is running unopposed in District 1, where Mattie Hicks is stepping down after more than 20 years.
The District 2 seat is in contention between Carolyn Smith Carter and incumbent Charlie Frasier. The District 3 seat is between Marcus Scott IV and incumbent Carol Guyette.
All five candidates made speeches, answered moderator and audience questions, and debated with each other. Hot topics included the effectiveness of Ombudsman, which runs alternative schools in the county), reasons why the two high schools failed AYP and tightening budgets.
While all the candidates said Ombudsman’s alternative program could be improved, Scott was most vocal. He said students need a different alternative because when he visited, it didn’t seem as if anyone was paying attention to the students.
Guyette said that while the program could always be improved, in most cases the students in alternative school do so because they brought weapons or controlled substances to school or were in trouble for violent acts. She said like all other disciplinary issues, the problem is a large and complicated one.
“It’s not something the schools can fix by themselves, it needs to be a community effort,” Guyette said.
On AYP, all the candidates said it was a problem, especially that both high schools failed because of low CRCT math scores (Liberty County also didn’t make CRCT reading scores).
Carolyn Carter Smith offered her solution.
“Part of the reason we don't’ make AYP is because remediation starts too late. We need to begin early on,” she said. “We’ve got to do better. We have to seek innovative ways, like early intervention.”
Another issue repeatedly brought up was the board’s budget, which was recently cut by 2 percent. 
Jones said once she’s on the board she will try her hardest to make the best use of the budget.
“We’ve got to become innovative and maximize our resources,” she said. “We’ve got to put the money where it counts.”
Frasier said one of his top spending priorities is technology.
“We want to continue to spend money on technology because we’ve got to keep our students at a competitive level,” he said.
During questions, an audience member asked about the board’s reserve funds which are estimated at $38 million.
Guyette explained that because of county growth funds are being set aside for the construction of two new schools.
“It’s not our intention to go into debt. We set aside money each year to build these buildings,” Guyette said.
Another question pertained to Scott’s eligibility to run as he currently works within the Chatham County school system. Scott said it did not matter where he worked, he was still eligible.
“It’s not a law yet, but there’s a push that way because we want to eliminate problems,” said Lily Baker, Liberty County BoE chairwoman, in reference to problems Clayton County from board members not working in the counties they represent.
Sign up for our e-newsletters