Early voting ends today for the primary election on Tuesday to decide several races, including the Sumter County Board of Education, which are nonpartisan, a seat on the Sumter County Board of Commissioners, and many state races. As of Thursday morning, 1,140 voters had cast their ballot and 377 absentee ballots had been received in the mail, according to Robert Brady, Sumter County Elections superintendent.
On Tuesday, voters will vote at their usual precinct and must provide a photo ID.
Here are synopses of the local candidates.
At Large two-year term
Michael Coley Sr.
Coley served on the Sumter Regional Hospital Authority from 1999-2011
Coley is running because “as a compassionate, servant leader and advocate for children, I actively champion academic achievement for all children in Sumter County.”
“I am committed to helping fulfill the mission and goal to graduate all students while continuously improving system effectiveness. Being a team player and role model I want to collaborate with others in working towards optimum solutions for our school system.”
Coley says he thinks “lack of involvement” from all the stakeholders is the biggest issue facing public education in Sumter County.
Coley says his main priority will be to “keep the focus on the children and make student achievement a top priority. Maintaining a safe environment conducive for learning is also a very important factor.”
Kitchens is an Americus native and graduated Americus High School in 1960. He has been a pastor since 1985, and is currently at Cheek Memorial Baptist Church in Americus. He serves as chair of the Region 6 Mental Health Planning Board.
He is seeking office because, “When I finished high school, I received a quality education, and I think children today ought to receive the same thing. I know that our school system in Sumter County is rated number 157 out of 162 systems in the state, I believe that can be improved. I’ve been in education for a while ... since about 1990, and I’ve served on lots of boards. So I think I can make a difference; I think I can help. And one of the other main reasons is I think our taxes are too high. I think the taxes that the school board collects could be cut and I don’t mean to cut quality, but just to cut taxes. There’s always a way you can cut.”
If elected. Kitchens knows his plan.
“I intend to do everything I can to raise the standard of accredited education. I say accredited because that’s very important, vitally important, If our students are going to have a decent standing in the world of academia or in the world of commerce, either one. ... You can’t go to college without an accredited high school education. They don’t even want to talk to you.”