Petitions against a man who wants to be appointed to the school board are circulating throughout Marshall County.
Former County Commission Chairman Sam Smith applied to represent the 4th District. On Feb. 28, commissioners are to appoint someone to fill the seat vacated by Dee Dee Owens until the August 2012 election.
"It's the only chance to keep him off the school board -- a petition," said Smith's neighbor, Dwight Ward. It won't be easy, according to Ward, since, he says, Smith "has about 11 commissioners obligated to vote for him."
There are 18 commissioners.
Ward urged people to go to the commission's meeting at 6 p.m. on the last Monday of February.
"We'd like to have as many present as possible to let the commission see we don't want him on there," he said. Ward's son had 81 signatures on his petition as of Monday afternoon, and plans to keep on getting them right up until the day of the meeting.
Smith has not seen the petition, but wrote in an e-mail, "I am much more concerned with maximizing all potential funding sources for education, student to teacher ratios, and declining ACT scores than I am petitions. It saddens me that so much energy is expended launching personal attacks against me, I wish these people involved would move on with their lives and try to do something positive for our school system and community."
What's wrong with having Smith on the school board?
"He doesn't have the best interests of the people of this community at heart," said Kathy Fox, who printed and distributed the first petitions, asking people to make copies and pass them on to as many friends as possible.
This doesn't just apply to voters in the 4th District, says Fox.
"Everybody who pays taxes and has a child in the school system will be affected," she said.
According to Ward, people are thinking Smith has his mind on getting back into politics, and serving on the school board is a step in that direction.
"What he did with that landfill - he wouldn't get elected," Ward exclaimed, bringing up the issue that led to Smith's resignation, first from the chairmanship and then from the commission itself, in 2008. Land, off U.S. 31A south of Cornersville, owned by Smith and by Mickey Cantrell was the subject of a purchase option between the two men and Waste Management. The company that has Cedar Ridge Landfill saw the Cornersville site as a potential location for a new landfill. The purchase option, which was not used, provoked furious opposition. Many see the opposition as why Waste Management abandoned its option. The company said the property's geography wouldn't be good for a landfill.
"I'm not sure he could ever get elected to anything," Ward said, revealing that he thought Smith's real ambition was to be county mayor.
Other applicants were Gaye Wilson and Jerry Campbell, but Wilson has withdrawn because she took a temporary job at the schools' central office, replacing an employee who will be out on medical leave.
This leaves Campbell and Smith as the only contenders who have filed written applications for the school board seat, although people may still attend the commission meeting on Feb. 28 and report that they want to be considered as a candidate for the seat.