Published DateTo the editor,
Meredith's local elections are only a few days away and so far it has been a very quiet campaign season. This may lead some voters to think there are no real substantive races or issues on this year's ballot and therefore no compelling reason to vote on March 12th. Nothing could be further from the truth.
In the race for the seat representing Meredith on the Inter-Lakes School Board, there is a real choice. The 2013-2014 school budget and proportional sharing formula results in the people of Meredith now being responsible for 73.5 percent of the almost $20 million budget. Meredith property owners will see a $1.36 million increase in their school taxes for the 2013/2014 school-year. This magnitude of contribution requires a representative who can impartially evaluate the concerns of all constituents and fully participate in the Board's deliberations and actions. That person is Mark Billings.
Mark is a successful business executive, entrepreneur, conservationist and critical thinker who has a passion for our children's education. Mark has attended most, if not every, board meeting over the past few years and he is not afraid to express viewpoints on ways to maximize student achievement, analyze budgets and cost effective solutions, while seeking to balance sometimes competing interests. Mark will be a true independent reasonable voice for Meredith constituents.
Mark's opponent for the seat is Chris Mega. Chris also has an exceptional background and talent. However, it is my opinion that there is a significant impediment to Chris' candidacy. Chris' wife is a teacher in our school district. Chris points out that if he were elected, he would recuse himself from any School Board decisions where there is a real or perceived conflict of interest. That sounds good in theory, but I submit that the very nature of a close and loving spousal relationship creates an inherent bias and viewpoint. Meredith's representative cannot have a perceived appearance of partiality.
One must also consider that more than three-quarters of the school district operating budget consists of salaries and benefits paid to school employees. How often will Mr. Mega have to ponder whether he has a real or perceived conflict of interest? Meredith deserves full time representation on the Inter-Lakes School Board, and Mark Billings is the person to fulfill that role and responsibility.
Richard R. Gerken