Wednesday, December 7, 2022

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Where are Leonard Harrison’s responses in school board race?

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As it does for each election where it send candidates issues questions, The Alamance News attempted to include responses for all candidates who filed to run for school board this year.

Six candidates filed for the non-partisan, four-year terms. The election on November 8 will elevate three of those to positions on the local school board where they will replace three incumbents who opted not to seek reelection. Former chairman Allison Gant, former vice chairman Tony Rose, and school board member Wayne Beam did not file for reelection.

Instead six candidates filed: Leonard Harrison; former county commissioner and state representative Dan Ingle; Chuck Marsh; Charles Parker; Seneca Rogers, who first ran in 2020 for a seat on the school board; and Avery Wagoner – who like Harrison, Marsh, and Parker is a first-time candidate for the post.

Five of the six responded to the newspaper’s questionnaire and request for biographical information. Their information is included beginning on page 7 of this week’s edition.
Leonard Harrison chose not to respond.

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Publisher Tom Boney, Jr. saw Harrison at a Mebane city council meeting last Monday night, October 3, where Harrison spoke. Inasmuch as Harrison had not included an email address in his filing information with the board of elections, Boney sought a current email where the questionnaire and biographical information could be sent to him later in the week.

Harrison provided one, and the newspaper sent its request to Harrison along with all other candidates on Tuesday, October 4, with a deadline to respond by noon on Monday, October 10.

When Harrison had not responded by this week’s Monday deadline, the newspaper sent a follow-up email reminding him that he had missed the deadline but still offering to include his answers if they could be received “as soon as possible.”

Harrison responded by email within five minutes: “ Thanks for the reminder! I’ll be home in 20 and do the questionnaire immediately,” he said.

When the newspaper had not received the questionnaire 24 hours later, the publisher sent another, “last call – final reminder,” instructing that the newspaper would still accept his responses, even if tardy, if they were received by midnight Tuesday night.

As of press time Wednesday, the newspaper has not heard further from Harrison, neither with responses nor any explanation for his decision not to participate.

All candidates had been told in the initial letter from the publisher, and Harrison in two follow-up emails, that in the absence of a response, the newspaper would list a candidate’s answer to each question as “Refused to respond,” and we have done so for Harrison in all of the questions in this year’s questionnaire to school board candidates (printed on pages 8, 9, & 10).

“It’s always disappointing when a candidate decides not to reveal his positions on important issues on the newspaper’s election questionnaire,” Boney said.

“It’s usually an indication of one or more of several factors: the candidate doesn’t know much about the issues (and doesn’t want to reveal that flaw), wants to conceal potentially unpopular views, or is not really serious about seeking the position in the first place.

“We don’t know which, or how many, of those factors might explain Harrison’s failure to respond, but he does a disservice, in our opinion, both to his supporters as well as to those who had intended to consider and evaluate his candidacy for this important position,” Boney said.

“We go to great lengths to treat all candidates fairly, but there’s only so much we can do when one of them simply won’t respond,” the publisher concluded.

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