The mystery, if there ever was one outside the governor’s office, is over.
Over a month since two candidates stepped forward in response to a story in this newspaper and nearly two months since this newspaper first set out on what at times seemed a quixotic quest, the governor’s office last week confirmed the applicants for the vacant seat on the Gulf County School Board.
And, in one of the worst kept secrets in history, the two applicants as of last week were Deborah Crosby and Charles Gathers.
The school board seat has been vacant since the late-March passing of Billy Quinn, Jr., at the time of his death the longest-serving county elected official.
Quinn was also the first African-American to serve as chairman of the Gulf County School Board, an honor bestowed on him twice.
Current board Chair Brooke Wooten called Quinn the board’s “glue.”
But his chair has been draped in purple-and-black since his death and the extent to which the position seems to be on the governor’s radar might fairly be extrapolated from the difficulty in securing the names of the applicants.
That there are just two applicants could also play into the priority of naming a replacement: that the occupant of the seat also represents just one-fifth of the voting population of the county might also be a factor.
We are left to wonder.
Another factor could be that the two applicants are Democrat; Gov. Ron DeSantis is a Republican.
The appointee must live within the district boundaries.
Gathers said he was told it was unlikely the seat would be filled until next year’s election cycle, when Quinn would have faced re-election.
Crosby recently retired from her position as Assistant Superintendent of Special Services with the district and had been a teacher and administrator with the school system since 1974.
One of the Bridges classrooms for the district’s physically and mentally challenged children was named in her honor.
“My objective … is to continue to provide a safe, nurturing environment and comprehensive curriculum that meets the needs of all learners,” Crosby wrote in response to the question of why she sought the appointment.
“My philosophy has always been based on the principles, to do justly, to love mercifully and to walk humbly with people.”
Gathers has served as a pastor for more than two decades and was also employed at various times with the city of Port St. Joe and the Bay County Jail.
He has also volunteered his time with the Christian Community Development Fund, the Washington Improvement Group and the advisory board at Port St. Joe Elementary School.
“I feel I will be an asset to this board because I am concerned about our student’s abilities to excel, the functionality of the schools as well as this board, the safety of our children as well as the ability to build a better future for our children and to create an environment for all children to be able to learn and feel safe,” Gathers wrote in response to why he sought the governor’s appointment.
How soon that appointment may come is an unknown and not indicated by the governor’s press office or Office for Open Government.