Editorial: We encourage you to seek the open seat on the Whitfield County Board of Education

We write this editorial with a heavy heart.

On May 17, longtime Whitfield County resident Thomas Barton passed away unexpectedly. Barton was highly regarded in the community -- notably in the south end of county -- for his countless hours of volunteering as a coach for various sports teams. Barton also gave of his time as a member of the Whitfield County Board of Education since 2008.

Barton's passing leaves a void on the school board as his colleagues and many in the school system lauded his commitment to the children of Whitfield County. Now, that void must be filled.

Applications and nominations are being accepted to fill Barton's unexpired term as the District 1 school board representative, which encompasses parts of southeastern Whitfield County. Per the state Constitution, a Whitfield County grand jury is required to appoint a member to the school board to serve out the remaining term for District 1, which ends Dec. 31, 2020.

The Whitfield County District Attorney's Office is handling the application process. The application deadline is Friday, June 21, at 5 p.m. The grand jury is expected to interview applicants the week of June 24.

The criteria to apply or be nominated includes:

• Must be a citizen of Georgia and a resident of Whitfield County for at least 12 months.

• Must be a resident of District 1.

• Must be at least 21 years of age and eligible to vote.

• Must not be employed by or serving on a governing board of any private educational body or institution, nor be employed by the Whitfield County Board of Education, the State Department of Education or State Board of Education.

Not sure if you live in District 1? Call the Whitfield County Board of Elections and Registrar at (706) 278-7183 and they'll check your address. The DA's office will later verify that all applicants live in District 1.

To apply, download an application at www.conasauga-da.org or pick up a paper application at the Whitfield County DA's Office, which is inside the Whitfield County Courthouse at 205 N. Selvidge St., suite P. Completed applications should be returned to the DA's office or can be emailed to April Parker at aparker@whitfieldcountyga.com. If you have any questions or would like more information, call (706) 876-1300.

Serving on a school board is often a thankless job that opens members up to criticism, but it's a vital job nonetheless. We encourage those who are civic-minded and reside in District 1 to offer themselves for public service.

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