**Editor’s Note: This column is the opinion of Racine County Eye Editor Heather Asiyanbi.
The fact that the Racine Unified Board of Education has been unable to make up its collective mind on the person who will fill a vacant seat at the table should really make residents angry.
Not only is the stalemate – 35 votes, seriously?! – ridiculous, but now the board’s dysfunction has once again caught the attention of Madison lawmakers, and they’re proposing legislation that would “fix” the issue not just in Racine but in every other state school district as well except Milwaukee.
There is a solution, and it is not anything that needs the input of legislators or the governor’s signature:
Look at the results of the April vote and take the 4th place candidate.
Not only does this solution fill any potential vacancy quickly, but it does so fairly and without any political string-pulling in either direction.
In a nutshell, Rep. Tom Weatherston, R-Caledonia, and state Sen. Van Wanggaard, R-Racine, are circulating a bill that would allow the board president to appoint someone in the event of a deadlocked vote. Public perception, though, is that Board President Melvin Hargrove sides more with an anti-teachers union faction and this legislation was written so Hargrove could get a fifth vote on his side of the table.
As The Journal Times editorial points out, Hargrove, Kim Plache, Chuck Goodremote and Pamela Handrow are considered less sympathetic toward the teachers’ union while Dennis Wiser, Don Nielsen, Julie McKenna and Mike Frontier are believed to be more pro-union.
The newspaper endorses the Weatherston-Wanggaard bill, but we disagree that their bill is the right way to go. Not only does this legislation ignore the vote of the people, it’s shortsighted.
As Caledonia resident Brian Dey pointed out on the Racine County Eye website that having Republican lawmakers step in to create a solution that will last longer than Republican control of the statehouse.
“It is extremely shortsighted and doesn’t take into consideration what happens if the other side has the presidential power to appoint one of their own,” he wrote.
No doubt, but beyond that, the people voted in April for who they wanted to represent them on the Board of Education. Taking the candidate who came in fourth place preserves that vote and ends the hand-wringing and any potential stalemate.