John Tedesco defended today his decision to run for state schools superintendent and potentially leave his Wake County school board seat early.
In today's edition of the Called2Action radio show, conservative talk show host Steve Noble and guest Steve Henion asked whether it's appropriate for elected officials to run for higher office and leave their terms early. Since Tedesco was one of the examples highlighted, he called in to explain his decision to run for superintendent.
Tedesco said he felt he could do more to serve children as superintendent than he could on the school board, especially now that he's in the minority. Tedesco said he'd work to find a school board replacement to run next year if he become superintendent or to run for reelection if he loses this year.
Noble and Henion are the co-founders of Called2Action, a conservative Christian group here in Raleigh. Both men voted for Tedesco in the May primary.
Noble asked Tedesco how the decision to run for superintendent came about. Tedesco pointed to how the board majority changing hands after last fall means his role has now shifted to shining a light on issues. But Tedesco added "I don't have the ability to continue to do the work as great as I'd like to" of serving children.
At the same time, Tedesco said community leaders and state legislators asked him about running for the General Assembly. He said he turned it down because he wouldn't be directly serving children, leading him to instead run for superintendent.
"If I do win that post, I'll get sworn in on January 13th and there would be about nine months left on my four-year term," Tedesco said. "At that point, I would still be able to continue to serve children, even help influence what's going on in Wake's education system from that role, from that post. I think I may even have a greater service to the people of Wake County being somewhat more of an influence with those members of the board at that post."
Henion raised the concern about how if Tedesco, Chris Malone and Debra Goldman all win, the current school board majority would fill the vacancies.
"Once you leave and let's say you and Malone and Goldman all go off, that current liberal, very liberal school board that we have there then has the option of appointing all the people that they want to fill your void, which means that would be an 8-1 liberal to conservative school board which would have ramifications for years and years to come," Henion said.
Henion asked Tedesco if he felt he was leaving his post empty. Tedesco first responded by noting how there would be nine months left on his term after he was sworn in as superintendent and how school board candidates would begin filing three-four months later.
"My district, when we did the redistricting, has been set up to be very conservative," Tedesco continued. "I will be active in identifying somebody to run for that district and even supporting that person as they run for that district next year.
And, quite frankly, if I do not win and have the opportunity to continue to hopefully serve children, not children in Wake County and children from across the state, I will continue in the post. I'm not someone who's taking my ball and going home.
I'm just trying to continue to serve even in better ways our children in something I'm passionate about. I will continue in that post. If I didn't win for the superintendent then come '13 I'll run again."
Tedesco also brought up how he feels that Malone should win his state House seat against Democratic challenger and former school board member Lori Millberg. Tedesco said Malone's district is "drawn pretty well that any Republican should be able to win that district."
Tedesco said that a Malone win would make it 6-3 board split, changing the current 5-4 balance.
"Whether it's 6-3 or 8-1, it's almost irrelevant in what we're actually capable of doing other than being able to have an extra couple of voices of naysayers so to speak," Tedesco said. "We're not really able to have, by having an extra two votes, enough to really stop anything."
Henion and Noble said they agreed that Tedesco was making good points.
Later on in the show, Richard Alexander Tedesco's opponent in Tuesday's GOP runoff election, called in.
Alexander said he had talked with Tedesco prior to running about how a lot of the things he had proposed in Wake were controversial. Alexander said he told Tedesco he needed to stick around for the repercussions to the things he was doing.
"He needs to be there to iron out the problems that came from the policies," Alexander said. "I'm not saying the polices were bad, but you've got to be there to help fix those problems."
Alexander also accused Tedesco of having missed recent school board committee meetings that would have allowed Republicans to hold a majority over Democrats.
(I'm now off for the next two weeks. I've written a few posts to cover that time period.)