From left, Dougherty County Probate Judge Nancy Stephenson administers the oath of office Friday to returning Dougherty County School Board member James Bush and newcomers Lane Price and Robert Youngblood. Their new terms of office start on New Year's Day. (Dec. 28, 2012)
ALBANY, Ga. -- Lane Price and Robert Youngblood took decidedly different paths to their swearing-in ceremony Friday at the Dougherty County Judicial Building.
As the two newest Dougherty County School Board members, Price fought through a primary, general election and lawsuit to nail down her at-large seat, while Youngblood cruised to his District I post unopposed.
Price, who defeated incumbent Anita Williams-Brown in the July Democratic primary and a write-in effort by Lorenzo Heard in the general election, and Youngblood were sworn in, along with Board Chairman James Bush, whose re-election was unopposed. Board member Velvet Riggins, who ran unopposed, was not present and will be sworn in later.
The new members will officially join the board on Jan. 1 and will face a system in disarray after missteps and the intervention of the Georgia Department of Education led to a parting of the ways with former superintendent Joshua Murfree earlier this month.
The board is expected to name an interim superintendent within weeks.
"I am hopeful we can get our house in order so we can get to the business of educating our children," Bush said after the ceremony.
Youngblood, who is replacing outgoing board member David Maschke, has extensive administrative experience within the Dougherty School System and is a former principal at four schools at the elementary, middle and high school levels.
"I am excited about having the opportunity to serve the citizens of Dougherty County," he said. "We have tough decisions in front of us and I would like to see the Board of Education come together for a common purpose.
"Our first task will be finding a capable interim superintendent."
Price, the medical director at Willson Hospice House, agreed with Youngblood that the board must work together.
"I know we will never all agree on everything, but I hope that we can be cooperative and focus on educating our children and not on ourselves," Price said.
She added the campaign was arduous, yet fulfilling, but that now the real work begins.
"It feels wonderful to finally take the oath," Price said. "Now the future falls back on all the things I campaigned for. They are reasonable goals and they are attainable goals if we just work together."
Bush said he would likely call a special meeting after the first for the board to select the interim superintendent from among three candidates -- Franklin Perry, Butch Mosely and Roy Brooks.