Billy Quinn, Jr. passed away six months ago and replacing him on the Gulf County School Board appears no closer than the day he tragically passed.
Quinn’s tenure in the District 4 school board seat was the longest of any current member when he passed, but there is apparently a dearth of residents of District 4 interested in the job.
Gov. Ron DeSantis would have to appoint a replacement. Those interested apply to his office to be considered.
Quinn’s term was scheduled to end in 2020, so whoever was appointed would have barely a year to serve.
Not that is unusual in such situations in Gulf County.
Michael Hammond served roughly a year after being appointed sheriff before facing the electorate and the timeline was roughly the same for David Rich after he was appointed to replace Freddie Whitfield on the Board of County Commissioners.
One the other hand, those appointments came after months of waiting the governor’s decision so it is not out of the norm a replacement has not been appointed.
The unusual aspect in this case is no one apparently wants the job.
The governor’s press office, a journey unto itself as we will detail, indicated that there is not active list of applicants for the position, and communicated that there was no current timeline for an appointment.
As long as the seat remains unfilled, the Gulf County School Board has just four members and District 4, under a federal decree as a minority protected district, remains unrepresented.
More pointedly, Quinn has long been the lone African-American on the board.
A few words here about the search for information on an appointment.
Two emails, separated by more than two weeks, were submitted to the governor’s press office.
Those emails requested the names of those who had applied for the vacancy on the Gulf County School Board and any timeline for making the appointment.
Emails were submitted as press releases from the governor’s office tend to emphasize an email address not a phone call, so we were trying to make it as easy as possible.
However, after hearing nothing for going on three weeks, a phone call was placed.
The individual who answered the call, after an exchange of names and the reason for the inquiry, found my second email among, we assume, the pool of emails coming into the office.
But, only at that point was it being forwarded to an office to be addressed, according to the person on the other end of the line.
Three weeks since the first email.
Last Friday, nine days after my second request, going on a month from my first request, David Vasquez replied by email that, “Our office of open government is not in possession of a list of applicants.”
They would, naturally, keep me updated on a timeline for any appointment.
A subsequent email to Mr. Vasquez, clarifying that there were no applicants for the position, an unexpected and surprising answer and sent early Monday morning, has yet to garner a reply.
In any case, the result is that no resident of District 4 has applied to replace Quinn.
There is no timeline to name a replacement.
And the Gulf County School Board could end spending more than 18 months without full membership before the seat is up for election.