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OPINION

Our View: Thank you Traci, hello Steve

The Apalachicola Times

Each candidate who put themselves forward for public office has earned a thank you for sticking their neck out. But the ones who have served, and will not return to serve for longer, deserve a measure more of our gratitude.

We can get out of the way the proper pleasantries and praise. Good job keeping the local election real and clean, although not always really clean. Win or lose, everyone has done all of us, 8,484 registered voters to be precise, a service by making the holding of public office a choice, an honor, a challenge, a contest.

Now, as harsh as this phrasing will sound, there were two individuals who were not rehired. They were voted out. They were defeated.

In the case of District 5 county commissioner, William Massey, he had been in office two terms, and certainly no one would argue that any of these elected jobs are lifetime appointments. Eight years is good enough for the president of the US and so it's good enough for any elected official. The county got a younger, female face, and Mr. Massey can leave with credit where credit is due.

In the case of Traci Moses Yoder, the sting is more keenly sensed, as it came after one term in office.

It was not for want of trying, and it is because of the effort that Ms. Yoder demonstrated that shows just how massive a task Mr. Lanier has before him. If she had been lazy, or half-hearted, or just plain not very good at what she did as the school district’s leader, then you might conclude that Lanier could step right in and easily fill the vacuum she had failed to fill.

The opposite is true, and now as the breezes waft away the acrid gunsmoke that hovered over the campaign battlefield, the landscape can be seen for what it is, minus the casualties to truthtelling that may lie there.

Ms. Yoder worked diligently to stem the tide of students leaving for neighboring districts, a troubling situation made worse by the state’s decision to allow unfettered school choice. She was hands-on, some might say too hands-on, but constantly strived to make thorough and informed decisions. She was a stickler for enforcing rules fairly to all students, a critically important task in a small community where favoritism is easily known and all too often leads to anger.

Most of all Ms. Yoder guided the district through an unprecedented pandemic, a trying task that tested everyone, administrators and teachers and students alike.

As much as her service has been appreciated, it has come to an end, and the voters have spoken.

They spoke because they, like Ms. Yoder and so many others, have grown frustrated with the rapid and difficult change that has befallen the district, change due to a multitude of factors, and not simply reduced to bad teachers, or bad parents, or bad anything.

By giving Mr. Lanier a solid vote of support, an overwhelming electoral mandate, they have commissioned this former Navy commander with a mission, one that will not lead to victory in a day or even a year.

But it will come, as the community has placed its trust in not only a military veteran, but one who has proven himself a leader in the civilian world as well, as head of the Apalachicola Housing Authority.

On this Veterans Day, we take notice of the many devoted men and women who have been thrust into unforeseen duties that call for them to muster courage, strength, patience and perseverance.

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The county has placed its trust in a new superintendent, a native son who has been called to approach education as somewhat of an outsider, as he lacks a teaching career that so many of his predecessors have had.

This battle for the hearts and minds of our community, to restore its faith in the school system, will not be won overnight. But it will come, and we wish Mr. Lanier all the best as he summons the tools needed for ultimate victory.