Editor’s note: How Decaturish will be covering School Board candidate Hans Utz
This post has been updated.
Decatur, GA — Hans Utz told me repeatedly that good candidates need to run for School Board this year.
And if no one stepped up, he told me, he might just do it himself. I was disappointed, but unsurprised when he contacted me during my breakfast a few weeks ago and informed me that he’d be making a run for School Board.
I’m not disappointed by his candidacy. Far from it. I think he will make a stellar member of the City Schools of Decatur Board of Education, though I’m not a voter in the city of Decatur and won’t be making any endorsements in our local races. I’m disappointed because Hans running for School Board effectively ends his work as a columnist for us on various city issues. Hans has often lent his expertise as a former top official in the city of Atlanta, giving us valuable perspectives and insights into the functioning of the city of Decatur government. His contributions will be missed and, frankly, hard to replace. He’s a smart man with the heart of a true public servant, which is a fancy way of saying he’s in it for the right reasons.
You might have some questions about his decision, and I wanted to be as transparent with you as I can be.
One question you might have is whether I encouraged him to run, or whether his editorializing about City Schools of Decatur was meant to set up a School Board run. The answer to both is no. I do think what we learned about City Schools of Decatur during David Dude’s time as superintendent inspired Hans to take this step. CSD is in a difficult spot right now, staring down four federal lawsuits while also managing public perceptions in the face of deteriorating trust. Hans believes he has the street credibility and the skills to put CSD on a better path. I think he’s right. But Hans running is definitely not in my best interest. Because his work gives me street cred, too.
The more pertinent question you might have is how we’re going to cover a Hans Utz candidacy going forward. The answer is Zoe Seiler, our new full-time reporter, hired thanks to our 1,500 paying supporters. Because Hans is our columnist and my friend, I cannot objectively cover him. Zoe is already handling the bulk of our School Board coverage and will handle all coverage pertaining to Hans going forward. With that said, I will still be her editor and as publisher I read everything that appears on my site. So by default I will have some role to play in editing articles about Hans, but it’s not something I’m able to extricate myself from. That’s just part of being a small publisher. My personal interests are a little closer to the product than other publications.
Zoe will also be taking the lead on any forums we host about this School Board race. (Reading this might be news to her, so surprise Zoe!) I trust her judgment implicitly and I know she will do a great job.
There’s a good chance Hans will run unopposed and as much as I admire and respect him, I hope that’s not the case. Hans agrees with me on this, by the way. A School Board election with candidates running unopposed is one where the candidates do not have to defend or define their positions on important matters affecting the school system. So for the sake of the quality of our schools, if you live in Decatur and you feel you have something to contribute, please run for School Board (or City Commission, if you’re so inclined). Even if you do not ultimately prevail, you will be giving voters a chance to hear where the candidates stand on the issues relevant to you.
Candidates in recent years have run unopposed in Decatur School Board elections, and we all saw where that got us. Qualifying starts on Aug. 16. For details on how to qualify, click here. To see the City Commission and School Board district maps, click here.
Decaturish will be providing ongoing coverage of all municipal elections being held on Nov. 2. That coverage may be found at Decaturishvotes.com.
If you have any additional questions about how we’ll be covering this race or any of the other races in our upcoming elections, please shoot me an email: [email protected]
As a friend, I wish Hans well. As your community reporter and news editor, I encourage all of you to get informed and vote in your local elections.
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