The tale of Billy Quinn, Jr’s successor has taken a turn into the Twilight Zone.
Mr. Quinn was of the generation that would understand the reference.
His life was celebrated last week in Orlando, but in Tallahassee securing names of anyone applying to replace him on the Gulf County School Board remains more difficult than learning trigonometry.
This past weekend in Orlando during the state Democratic Party bi-annual convention, Ryan Terrell, who ran unsuccessfully against Jason Shoaf for the Florida House District 7 seat, secured statewide Florida Democratic Party tribute to Quinn.
During a discussion of plans for 2020 brought forth a resolution that recognized and honored Quinn for his service on the Gulf County School Board.
According to a press release from Terrell, “After a submission issue nearly derailed passage of the tribute, Terrell rallied support of the delegates through social media and lobbied various party leaders to secure its passage.”
Ultimately, the resolution was introduced by Cassie Studstill, the chair of the Gulf County Democratic Executive Committee, and it recognized Billy Quinn Jr. for his trailblazing leadership in the Gulf Schools system and for his advancement of civil rights.
Quinn was the first African-American to serve as School Board chairman.
"I hope Mr. Quinn can rest in peace knowing that his life brought inspiration and meaning to so many people in our state,” Terrell said in a prepared statement.
“His passing has left a void in leadership that will be sorely missed by all those who knew him, but also sets a high bar for his eventual successor.”
That successor? Who knows?
Two months after the initial request, and nearly three weeks after being referred to another office within the offices of Gov. Ron DeSantis, a list of candidates who have applied to succeed Quinn remains elusive.
The governor must appoint the successor.
And this email from the Office of Open Government Tuesday, “We are in the final stages of compiling and processing your records. Thank you for your continued patience, and we hope to provide these records as quickly as possible.”
This is for a list of names that we believe to be not all that long and was first requested two months ago; a list of names specifically requested from this Open Government office more than two weeks ago.
The newspaper does have in possession emails from the governor’s office of appointments confirming that long-time school employee Deborah Crosby and local pastor Charles Gather have applied for the job.
Months ago for Crosby, last month for Gather after the first story of this saga appeared in this newspaper.
There are, of course, plenty of rumors.
One is that because neither of the candidates we are aware of is a Republican, the governor’s political party, they are not palatable for appointment.
This seems odd because a school board seat under our state elections system is non-partisan.
The second theory is that because of single-member districts and the voting districts of school board members in the county, there are just 2,000-2,500 people impacted.
Not a high priority.
Regardless, seven months after Quinn’s untimely passing, one district in the county, a predominately minority district at that, remains without representation and appears off the radar to the one person who can do anything about it.