No one files for school board seat

By Tom Joyce

August 2, 2014

DOBSON — The filing period has come and gone with no one casting a hat into the ring for the District “A” seat on the Mount Airy Board of Education — including the incumbent.

This means the vacancy will be subjected to the write-in process when the general election is held on Nov. 4, according to a county elections official who is not aware of this situation ever occurring during her tenure.

“I don’t remember a time when we had an office on the ballot with no candidate,” said Susan Jarrell, director of the Surry Board of Elections, with which she’s served for 17 years.

The District “A” seat is now held by Mike Hiatt, a city school board member in his second term, who couldn’t be reached Friday for comment about his reasons for not running.

But Dr. Greg Little, superintendent of Mount Airy schools, said Hiatt recently had made his plans known to fellow board members and other officials.

“Mike let us know that it was not his intention to run” for re-election, the superintendent said. “He just felt like two terms were enough and it was time to give somebody else a shot at being a school board member.”

Two other incumbents, Tim Matthews and Ben Cooke, did opt to seek new four-year terms during the candidates’ filing period that began on July 7 and ended Friday at noon.

Jarrell said Hiatt’s District “A” seat will still be on the ballot in November, with a space provided where each voter can write in someone’s name. The person drawing the most votes will win the seat.

“You just have to be qualified for the office,” the elections official added of those chosen on a write-in basis, which in this case includes being a resident of the Mount Airy No. 1 election precinct, the territory covered by District “A.”

Meanwhile, Little praised the service Hiatt has provided to the city educational system.

“Mike has been a fantastic board member and he has brought a lot to the table,” the superintendent said of Hiatt’s background as a former educator, which includes serving as a principal and coach in the system.

Little said he understands Hiatt’s reasons for stepping down from the seven-member board. “But at the same time we’re going to miss Mike very much.”

The Mount Airy Board of Education has a fine tradition of qualified and dedicated members, said Little, who believes this will continue despite no one officially filing in District “A.”

“I’m confident that someone will put their name in the hat,” the school chief said regarding the vacancy, “and it will take care of itself.”

Little said he has “no doubt whatsoever” that this will occur.

Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.