Board elects new representative

By Michael McVey

If you live in Greek Row you have a new representative on the DeKalb County Board.

At last Wednesday’s board meeting the board voted 22-0 to appoint Diane Mikula (R-5th district) to the seat formerly held by Rob Harris. Thomas Gary (D-6th) was absent from the meeting.

Mikula said the seat opened because Harris had moved outside the 5th district. The DeKalb County Republican Party nominated Mikula to replace Harris, who endorsed her nomination.

“I have a good relationship with some members of the board and am getting to know everyone else,” Mikula said. “I am excited to work with them.”

Mary Sindelar (D-7th) made the motion to confirm Mikula, and Veronica Casella (D-9th) seconded. When asked about both the motion and second being made by Democrats, Mikula said this was a sign that the entire board was very supportive of her.

Anthony Jacob (D-7th) said Harris was “kicked off” the board because he moved to another district.

A board member from any district must live within that district for the entire term of office, Jacob said. Thus, a move from Greek Row to the residence halls, or even from Neptune to Grant, during a board member’s term would result in the unseating of that member.

“I don’t think the Republican Party could have picked anyone better (than Mikula),” Jacob said. He also said the board was much less partisan and under-the-table than he expected when he was appointed last May.

Harris said he moved from his district strictly for financial reasons. He had spent the summer in an apartment outside his district, intending to rent an apartment in his district this semester.

“The county board allows students to do that,” Harris said. “Thomas Gary spent the summer at a government internship in Georgia and came to the meetings.”

Harris said when his lease expired in August, he found all the landlords in his district required two months’ rent and a security deposit up front.

He could not afford that much, and his landlord offered to hold over his deposit and allow him to keep paying monthly rent on his summer apartment.

Harris said he explained the situation to County Board Chairman Robert Hutcheson, Jr. (R-1st), who said he would have to resign. Harris said he sent a letter of resignation which the board did not receive.

“One of the requirements is that a member has to reside within his district,” Hutcheson said. “Since we did not receive his resignation, we had to vacate his seat.”

Harris said he did not know the board had not received his letter because he was job-hunting in Chicago. On Oct. 20, before Harris returned from job-hunting, the board voted to unseat him.

Hutcheson said Harris then gave him a copy of the resignation letter, but by that time it was a moot point.

In the meantime, Mikula had expressed interest in being on the board, Harris said. “I told her I’d be resigning, wished her luck, and explained the workings of the board to her.”

Jacob and Harris both think students should be more involved in local politics. Jacob said many students do not realize how much effect they can have on the board’s decisions by calling the members for their district.

Not only does the board make important decisions that affect students, Jacob said, but it is much more responsive to citizens than the state or federal legislative bodies.

Harris said students of any persuasion need to get more involved in the political process. “Having students on the county board elevates the public perception of students, and offers a different perspective at the meetings,” he said.

Harris said students should make sure to register to vote at least 30 days before the March primary, and notify the voter registration office of any change of address, even if it is within the same residence hall.

“One of the requirements is that a member has to reside within his district. Since we did not receive his resignation, we had to vacate his seat.”