Sign calls candidate for school board president 'chicken' - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Sign calls candidate for school board president 'chicken'

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SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) -

Five candidates are vying to become Chatham County's new school board president. The election is less than a month away. Wednesday, the race took a turn.

School board president is a non-partisan position, but on his website, candidate David Simons, President of Simons Political Group, purports to be the only Republican running. 

Simons is also the only candidate who didn't come to Wednesday night's debate hosted by the Downtown Neighborhood Association at the Coastal Georgia Center.

Simons skipped the two prior debates as well.

Wednesday afternoon, a sign appeared outside the Coastal Georgia Center. It had an image of a chicken and Simons' name.

No one has claimed responsibility for the sign.

Simons scoffed.

"I think it's highly disingenuous to call anyone who's served in the middle of Afghanistan, willingly, proudly, chicken," he said.

Simons is in the Army National Guard and has twice been deployed to Afghanistan.

Alicia Blakeley, who attended Wednesday's debate, also served in the Army.

"Because (Simons) served in the military and served his country, he should know, when you're supposed to be somewhere, you're supposed to be somewhere," she said.

Simons didn't give a reason for missing the two prior debates, but said he couldn't come to Wednesday's forum because his son was performing a solo in Forsyth Park as part of the St. Andrews School choir.

"My family comes first," he said. "I will attend the debate on my choosing at my time."

Jolene Byrne, an Armstrong Atlantic State University sociology instructor, who also is running for school board president, questioned whether a potential school board president should send his children to private school, as Simons has.

Byrne's son attends public school. She asked what new residents would think when they move to Chatham County, "and they see that the school board president doesn't have the confidence to put their child in public school. How will they have the confidence to put their child in public school?"

School board candidate George Seaborough, a Waffle House operations manager, doesn't have children but said he and his wife have several relatives in public school.

"By having someone in the school system, you're directly connected to what's going on," he said.

Simons said he and his wife decided to send their children to private school before he decided to run.

"It's just the way it is right now," he said. "I don't know what the future holds. But every year we review it and we'll make the right decision for our children."

Also running for school board president are retired Savannah schoolteacher Sadie Brown and Chester Ellis, former teacher and current pastor of St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church.

The Junior League of Savannah will host another debate at 6:30 p.m. on April 29 at the Coastal Georgia Center. Simons has not said he will attend.

Simons said he will attend a Parent Teacher Association debate at the Jewish Educational Alliance on Abercorn Street at 6:30 p.m. on May 7.

Early voting in the race has begun. The election is set for May 20.

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