Bob Usry is seeking the District 1 seat on the Lee County Board of Education that is being vacated by Robert Clay. (Staff Photo: Danny Carter)
LEESBURG — Bob Usry says his roots run deep in Lee County, with family members living here since before the turn of the century — and he’s not talking about this century.
Usry, 69, is running for the District 1 seat on the Lee County Board of Education which is being vacated by Dr. Robert Clay. Usry faces opposition in the May 20 nonpartisan primary from David Brokamp.
Usry said his brother, Hiram, was on the Lee School Board years ago and he’s alwayts been interested in the role.
“I told Dr. Clay if he ever retired, I would run,” Usry said. “And he retired and I’m running.”
Usry said he’s a Republican who became interested in politics when he helped in Bo Callaway’s campaign in 1964.
“I go back with the Republican Party that far. … My politics run to what I can do for the people.” he said. “I can think for myself without having a group of people try to push me one way or the other.”
He says he’s conservative when it comes to spending tax funds.
“Bigger is not always better,” Usry said. “I want quality education, but it needs to be in a framework that the taxpayer can afford. … Every time you have a tax increase, it’s a burden on people.”
Usry says he taken a stand on the school bond issue before Lee voters in the primary that would provide $11.75 million for improvements, most notably new and improved athletic facilities.
“Dr. Clay recommended waiting two years and I tend to agree with him,’ said Usry. “The issue about the sports facilities came about when Lee County moved up one class to Class AAAAAA, but only by a few students.
“Sometimes you rush to judgment, then you worry about that rush later when reality sets in,” he said. “I have heard a lot of people say they will not go for it. There’s also an issue about the tennis courts being somewhere other than on campus and that concerns some people, and the AstroTurf concerns some people.”
Usry said Lee County is fortunate that a majority of its citizens care strongly about its schools.
“It’s sort of a sacred obligation to some people,” he said. “But to have good schools, you have to have money.”
“Also, to have a good educational system, you have to think outside the box and we don’t always do that.”
Usry says he is a retired registered nurse with a master’s degree in education. In addition to working at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital and the former HCA Palmyra hospital, Usry said his most recent job before retirement was inspecting nursing homes for the state. He also served 30 years in the U.S. Army, mostly in the National Guard.
Usry and his wife, Betsy, have four children who were educated in the Lee County public schools. The children all now live in metro Atlanta, Usry said.