Friday, November 2, 2018

Hylton Chosen to Replace Wilkerson on School Board

Thomas Hylton
It took three votes of the school board, but a decision was finally made Thursday night.

Former board member Thomas Hylton was chosen over a board member's husband to fill the vacancy left by the resignation of Emanuel Wilkerson.

The other candidate, William Barnhill, was, like Hylton, a losing candidate on last year's ballot but, unlike Hylton, is married to board member Bonita Barnhill.

The first vote resulted in a 4-3 split in favor of Barnhill, with board member Kurt Heidel absent.

But five votes are required to appoint a new board member.

Voting for Barnhill were School Board President Amy Francis, Kim Stilwell, Bonita Barnhill and Raymond Rose.

Voting for Hylton were School Board Vice President Katina Bearden, John Armato and Susan Lawrence.

There was much discussion about how both candidates are qualified and bring different strengths to the table -- Hylton's logical thinking, deep familiarity with the district and research skills, and Barnhill's engineering background and familiarity with facilities management.

Armato and Bearden argued that Hylton's ability to bring a different perspective to the board would help it make better decisions. "We're not all here to agree," he said.

Barnhill said her husband is also very good at "looking things up" and spends a lot of time researching subjects.

All the board members said it was a difficult choice and that choosing either candidate would be acceptable.

The matter of potential nepotism or conflict of interest was also discussed.

School Board President Any Francis said the question of the legality of the couple serving together was raised during candidate interviews held Oct. 25 and it was determined legally, it is not a conflict of interest.
William Barnhill

But resident David Miller, himself a former school board candidate, argued it is in appropriate just the same. He said Bonnie Barnhill should recuse herself from voting.

Barnhill said her husband brings a different perspective from her own and did not recuse herself from voting.

William Barnhill said if he had been successful in his run for office, there would have been no question of nepotism.

The board discussed the possibility of re-interviewing the candidates; taking a vote at the next meeting when Heidel would more likely be present; or even starting the process all over again.

Instead a second vote was taken, but also resulted in a 4-3 split, but this time favoring Hylton, with School Board President Amy Francis shifting her vote from Barnhill to Hylton.

Finally, a third vote was taken and Stilwell also shifted her vote to Hylton, giving him the five votes needed. He will be sworn in at the Nov. 15 meeting.

Hylton will serve until December 2019, and must run in the spring primary and, if successful, for a full four-year term in November 2019 if he wishes to remain on the school board for a full four-year term.

Wilkerson, who first joined the board as a senior in high school, announced his resignation in August due to his responsibilities as a student at Temple University.

Here are the Tweets from last night's meeting.

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