Cook, Veasley engage in debate
By Isabela Rzeznik
The Perk Avenue Coffee House was full for the Democratic District 1 Board of Education debate before primary voting on July 31. The two candidates, Erica Veasley (D) and Robyn Cook (D), engaged in friendly debate, discussing the various issues affecting the Morgan County School System.
After the candidates were introduced, a coin was flipped and Veasley spoke first, emphasizing her campaign’s diversity platform as well as the neutrality she would bring to the table as a non-parent. Cook spoke second, explaining how the teachers during her education made a tremendous impact on her life and her role as a parent. The questions asked of the candidates by Chris Hodges, chairman of the Morgan County Democratic Committee, as well as audience questions varied from their thoughts on ending the school taxes on seniors to long school bus commutes.
“You need someone who cares about the whole system,” explained Veasley on being a good board member, while Cook talked about wanting every child to have a great education. A question about bringing more minority teachers into Morgan County schools prompted Veasley to express support not only for teachers, but for diversity at all levels. Cook, on the other hand, thinks that raising teacher salaries will help to attract and retain new, minority teachers. Long school bus commutes, which reach an hour and a half for some students, at times without air conditioning, were another issue. Veasley expressed great shock upon learning. Cook had personal experience with the topic, since her son had a 45 minute bus ride at one point. Both would like to make those trips more comfortable for students.
Eliminating school taxes for seniors elicited attentive responses from the candidates. Veasley stated that about 33 percent of the school budget comes from those taxes. As a result, she believes that removing the tax will take time and planning. Cook would like to work with seniors on this issue and explore exceptions for seniors over the age of 70 and those with fewer assets.
The debate concluded with both candidates stating their honor at being there, looking forward to the challenges ahead, and reasserting their strengths to be on the school board. Cook’s statement summed it up, “May the best woman win, but may it be a woman!”
Printed in the July 19, 2012