Community involvement is considered one of McDuffie County's most defining traits. Everyone, it seems, is involved in something, whether it be for church, school or one of the area's many successful fundraisers.
That's why last week's news that there are no challengers for any of the four open spots on the McDuffie County school board was a little troubling. Make no mistake, those who currently serve on the school board have done an outstanding job for the community. They've kept the system's head above water financially and have contributed to greater proficiency among students.
But competition is a good thing. It would have been beneficial for McDuffie County as a whole if we had had a good old-fashioned political battle. Incumbents would have had to defend their votes and accomplishments, while challengers would have emphasized what they would have done and will do differently. And who would benefit? All residents of McDuffie County, especially parents and students. That's the beauty of the political process.
Granted there will be one new face on the school board: former Thomson High School Head Football Coach Paul Leroy. He'll be taking Tommy Phelps' spot on the board, who isn't running for reelection. Obviously, Mr. Leroy is running unopposed.
While Mr. Leroy seems like a worthy board member, his ascension to school board will not be littered with debate and discourse. There won't be political hurdles to jump through or hot button issues to explore. And that's unfortunate.
The school system is probably the most important thing in McDuffie County; there's tremendous pride for the schools here. But now is the time to get involved and make difference. The school funding situation doesn't look like it's going to be improving anytime soon. We're going to need an excellent school board to keep up the good work. We have that now, thankfully, but several years down the road more of the current board may be retiring. Then we won't be so lucky. So step up to the plate, McDuffie County. It's an easy call to make.