HAMLIN — Offering himself as a nominee for the House of Delegates from the 22nd District may not have been a wise political move for Lincoln County School Board member Gary McCallister. Instead of gaining a seat in the state legislature, McCallister has been forced to give up his position on the Lincoln Public Service District board.
In an email to friends and some media, McCallister announced Wednesday evening that he would resign from the Lincoln PSD board August 15.
The Lincoln County Commission office in Hamlin acknowledged Thursday that McCallister’s letter of resignation had been received. Administrative Assistant Mary Napier was not sure if the Commission would accept the resignation, effective immediately, since it arrived too late to be placed the August 15 agenda. The Commission does not meet again until the end of September.
McCallister’s ill-fated interest in the House of Delegates vacancy created when Democrat Josh Stowers resigned led to the PSD decision. Questions quickly arose when McCallister sought the House seat as to whether he could remain a member of the Lincoln Board of Education and involve himself in partisan politics. McCallister was elected to the non-partisan School Board in 2012.
After state officials determined that McCallister could, in fact, be involved in the Delegate selection process since he was standing for appointment and would not appear on a public ballot, further questions surfaced. One involved what appears to be clear state law prohibiting a sitting School Board member from even taking the oath of office until he or she resigns from any other public body that includes a salary for Board members. PSD Board members are paid per meeting.
McCallister sought an opinion from the State Ethics Commission asking if he could refuse his PSD salary and continue to serve on both boards. But the Commission referred to an earlier Advisory Opinion where they ruled that such was not possible. The Board member initially told friends and members of the Lincoln School Board that he would resign Wednesday but apparently changed his mind and considered asking the Ethics Commission for further consideration. However, by Wednesday evening, he was assuring friends he would “resign and move on.”
Lincoln County Commissioner K.K. Matthews said he would recommend that McCallister’s PSD Board position be advertised. “That’s what we’ve been doing whenever we appoint somebody to a board,” he said.
— Ron Gregory can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org