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After Harry: Sanders’ resignation as board president begs the question: Who will be his successor?





What are we to make of the resignation of Harry Sanders as president of the Lowndes County Board of Supervisors?  


Sanders says his decision to abandon the leadership position he has held for six years was based on his "losing support of the majority of the board." The District 1 supervisor singled out District 2 Supervisor Frank Ferguson and District 5 Supervisor Leroy Brooks, in particular, as interrupting him inside meetings and outside of them, not speaking to him at all. 


The move comes after a heated board meeting two weeks ago, and a workshop Thursday, during which Ferguson, Brooks and District 4 Supervisor Jeff Smith said they wanted to borrow $2 million to fix county roads. Sanders was against borrowing money, but wanted to reconfigure an already-approved road plan to redistribute funds already committed. On Monday, the board voted 3-2 to borrow the money. 


Sanders, though imperfect, is an informed and capable leader. The often-combative Sanders isn''t used to being on the wrong side of board votes, and while he said his decision wasn''t based on the dissension over road money, we can''t help but think it played a big part. During the meeting a week ago, Ferguson and Brooks attacked Sanders'' leadership of the board in general, beyond the road issue.  


The question now becomes, which board member, other than Sanders, can take on the presidency? With 26 years as a supervisor, Brooks has the most experience. But there is a reason he''s never been tapped as board president during this time -- while he often contributes good ideas, overall his temper is too short, his behavior too erratic and his personality too polarizing to many in the community. 


Which leaves us with Holliman, Smith and Ferguson, all first-termers. The reticent Holliman hasn''t broken out from under Sanders'' shadow. Ferguson says he''s his own man when it comes to decision-making and board votes, but Sanders'' assertion that Ferguson won''t speak to him outside board meetings is troubling -- a good leader needs to reach out to all sides, even bitter foes, to be effective. 


Like Ferguson, Smith doesn''t appear allied to any certain faction, votes his own way most of the time and has no problem voicing his opinions. But his lack of political experience is a concern. 


Though it''s nothing new, the lack of leadership, harmony and cohesiveness on the board, as a whole, is troubling. We only hope that the board recovers, can agree on a new leader and return the focus to the myriad issues facing the county.



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