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OPINION: Why Brandon Shields, Mayor Massey and Brad Greer are wrong about Brent Lay

Editor’s Note: This is a guest opinion piece in response to Brandon Shields’ column.

What a wonderful week!  First, Mayor A.J. Massey and Republican Party Chairman Brad Greer did a “classy” orchestrated hit job against me, Brent Lay, at the Republican Caucus meeting.  I was invited to the meeting to explain why I am a candidate for the school board vacancy.

After my three minute speech like other candidates, Mayor Massey held up a file saying he knew firsthand how much trouble I caused the board back 4 years ago and that I was the one that “ran off Eric Jones.”  Then, immediately, a standing Brad Greer said I had caused major problems for the Republican Party back in 2018.

And of course, yesterday, you the Editor of the Jackson Post (a newspaper I like by the way) added to the insult by making slanderous observations in your “quick little history lesson.” 

Back then, I was dealing with cancer treatments and sometimes physically unable to contend.  I backed down and backed off. Now it is different. I am in far better health and it is time for the whole truth.

  1. In 2018, when Doris Black ran for office, local school board elections were non- partisan races.  Two of our greatest Presidents in U.S. history had influential black friends (Abraham Lincoln–Frederick Douglas and Teddy Roosevelt–George Washington Carver). Each of those Presidents happened to be Republican.

If any of you three gentlemen have a problem with me being a Republican who has black friends, have at it.  Doris visited my church. I believe God loves all His children.  Secondly, if you had studied the election, you would have known Doris won because it was a three way race in a district that had 43% African American votes.  An African American candidate in that type of three way race with two white candidates will win almost every time.  She won by more than 400 votes.  It was a matter of calculation.  As a retired teacher of 43 years, she was qualified.

  • Mayor Massey said I approached him about funding his campaign in 2018. Those who know me well, laugh hard because they know I am a tight wad.  Like many of the families in Madison County, my family had to do without.  First and foremost, I am a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ, a gospel for all of which I am not ashamed. I have been for almost 40 years.  Like most ministers, I have had a tight budget.  I am currently driving a 2007 Toyota with 182,000 miles.  It is my 5th straight vehicle I have driven for 9 years or more.
  • Eric Jones and I were friends before he was appointed.  He has been a guest in my home.  I have proof that I encouraged him greatly not to resign just days before he resigned (as soon as I have his permission to share our communication, I will make that public).
  • I do recall having lunch with you but I do not recall every detail.  It is truth that Shannon Stewart’s husband worked for the same law firm that received tens of thousands of dollars for legal counsel.  I regard it as great legal counsel and a great firm.  At the time, I do not recall an accusation. It was a question.  If it is wrong to ask questions when tax dollars are being paid out, have at it.
  • Yes, it is true I was allowed almost two hours before a committee to present a plan for more K-8 neighborhood schools.  I will do it again if I get half the chance.

In fact, anyone can read my book about it on Amazon books for just 99 cents. In regard to my agenda, you failed to report over recent weeks that the new state report card has our district ranked 6th from the bottom of 146 school districts in the state (readers can take a quick look at schooldigger.com for a chart). For 12 years now, our local district has been ranked in the bottom 10% in the state.  Our enrollment continues to decline even in the last three years.  That indeed is my agenda and I think 90% of the good citizens in Madison County agree with me that change, innovation, and intervention are in order. Why should we settle for being one of the worst districts in the state? Our spending per student has ranked in the top 10% in the state.

  • Yes indeed, I was for the new Baptist Hospital property on the by-pass being the location for the new Pope.  There are hundreds of houses before you get to any house I own in that area and my brother does not own a house in that area. If you have a problem with working hard, saving money, and qualifying for a loan to buy a house or houses, have at it.  I ask your readers to take a good look at the Baptist Hospital property on the bypass.  That location would have included room for a new high school, served as a great marketing tool, and saved us the expense of a 10 to 15 million dollar roundabout (includes my estimated cost of at least 8 million to purchase right aways from 16 property owners).
  • In response to your overall history lesson, I was against closing 5 community schools under the Vision 2020 decision. We were told we would never need all that space.  Now, with Blue Oval and projections of 20,000 people moving into Madison County within the next 5 to 7 years, the current pupil/population ratio of 12% means that we need 2,400 more seats almost immediately.  The new Pope is costing taxpayers about $600 per square foot.  We need to race to put Beech Bluff and Malesus back on line.  Who, in their right mind, wants to pay $600 per square foot when those buildings which are in great communities can be rehabbed for less than $60 per square foot?  And, I will lead buying property for a new Huntersville K-8 and High School as soon as possible (due to Blue Oval impact in that area).  Furthermore, I will insist on a new magnet school for east Jackson like we did Lincoln years ago.

If you believe like I do, please let editor Brandon and all his readers know.  Stand with me.  Contact your county commissioners.  I am running for school board.  Far better schools are on the way with Brent Lay.  At least, that is what I say.  What say you?

Brent Lay is an applicant for the open position on the Jackson-Madison County School Board. The Jackson Post’s opinion/editorial page is meant to help launch public discussion of local issues or allow local people to discuss national or statewide issues. Publication of a column is not an endorsement of that column by The Post, its owners or any of its advertisers or employees. To join the discussion, send a guest column or letter to the editor to brandon@jacksonpost.news. Submissions for a specific week’s print edition need to be sent by Monday night. Sending does not guarantee publication that week as that is based on space availability.

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