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Opinion

Over it


  • By Clay Neely
  • |
  • May. 18, 2022 - 7:04 PM

Over it

Clay Neely is co-publisher and managing editor of The Newnan Times-Herald. He can be reached at clay@newnan.com

Sometimes I write a column and, upon reviewing it, rather looks more a rant.

My wife is patient and, most importantly, married to me, so she’s somewhat obligated to entertain these rants, which typically heat up around election time.

See, despite working for a newspaper, I’m not a political person.

Maybe because it’s part of the job, but I have no interest in talking about politics whatsoever and can still fondly remember when the majority of Americans didn’t either.

In fact, talking “serious” about politics at a party was a bonafide excuse for someone to politely nod before wandering back over to the group of people who were talking about something interesting or funny.

Besides, I’ve taken enough political quizzes that confirm that no matter who I talk to, I can always find something in common with them before I successfully move on to a topic that’s more interesting.

What I like about being a small town reporter is that election season is usually a little more reflective about the community we live in.

In the past, candidates might disagree with each other (which they probably should), but it was all pretty civil since they would inevitably run into each other at church or the grocery store.

But boy, things sure have gotten heated around here lately.

I guess it was the campaign mailer from one of these school board challengers who called our local teachers and school system staff “groomers.”

I probably shouldn’t have taken it so personally since the source is an out-of-state PAC that’s attempting to influence a number of races around the country using the same buzzwords and rhetoric.

But when people move to one of the most conservative counties in Georgia and start demonizing our school system, it’s a little irritating.

We conducted an online poll a few weeks ago asking if school boards should be partisan. The results were a resounding “no.”

From the rhetoric these candidates are spewing, they’re acting like Coweta County will turn into Berkeley, California, if we don’t vote for them.

This group says they'll “keep the crazies out of Coweta.” I’m not sure who could be any crazier than this lot.

But here’s the thing. Coweta County has its identity figured out. We’re good, thanks.

A few weeks ago, we witnessed probably one of the most horrific crimes in Coweta history. The deaths of several members of the Hawk family were a tragic reminder of how horrible things can happen anywhere and to anyone.

But that crime didn’t define us. How we responded did.

Anyone touched by this tragedy did whatever they could to help out. Since we’re in the South, there's no question the Hawks probably had to buy another freezer to hold all the food that was surely donated.

Since I’m a terrible cook, I wrote a column. Others donated money for scholarships and provided any kind of support they could.

People who know what a community like Coweta is supposed to look like do their part to make sure it still reflects those values.

While it seems that I’ll always have plenty of crime to write about, it’s fulfilling to know that there remains a steady stream of those sharing their time and energy in keeping our community’s reputation intact.

Meanwhile, our school system had to publish a list of facts about the school system in order to address the rampant disinformation and slander directed toward those who actually get things done around here, including our teachers, principals, coaches and school board members.

These candidates seeking to disrupt our school board have no resume to speak of. You don’t see these candidates volunteering in local positions or engaging with the public beyond ranting on Facebook.

And apparently, you’ll never get Linda Menk to attend a school event unless the FBI invites her.

But that’s where we are. We’re living in a world where if you say something long enough and insist it’s the truth, someone will ultimately believe you. And I reckon that’s this group’s target audience.

I’m probably preaching to the choir, but when someone moves here and starts telling you how things need to get done before they’ve even unpacked their bag, I take it for what it’s worth.

So take a deep breath because election season is just about over, and I have a good feeling the good guys are going to win this one.

If not, well, that’s what newspapers are for.


Clay Neely is co-publisher and managing editor of The Newnan Times-Herald. He can be reached at clay@newnan.com