By TRACEY O’NEILL
Special to the Standard
NORTH KINGSTOWN – Melvoid Benson, member of the North Kingstown School Committee for five terms, changed her mind. Benson, frustrated with the inner ramblings and discord within the school committee, chose to set her declaration papers aside and end her tenure on the committee.
A misunderstanding in simple terms, Benson chose not to seek the endorsement of the Democratic Town Committee. “I was contacted by the head of the Democratic Town Committee and was asked if I would seek the endorsement of the committee. I told him that I was not sure if I would ‘seek’ the endorsement.” Per Benson, there was a miscommunication as to words and she did not turn the endorsement down.
Benson, who had previously declared that she would seek another term, had a change of heart. “After much prayer, thinking and consideration of what was best for the town, I decided not to seek re-election for another term.”
Working her way through the process, Benson completed all of the necessary steps to remain a candidate in the political process.
“I felt I would be re-elected with or without party endorsement. I had the papers and the signatures. I chose not to turn them in.”
Serving the town as an educator for almost three decades, a former legislator and school committee member, Benson is no stranger to the politics of education. “There was a break between their understanding of democracy and mine,” said Benson of the Democratic Town Committee. “I was told I had to vote for a particular person for School Committee Chair. I didn’t.”
A firm believer in the merits of a community-based educational system, Benson plans to remain active in the town’s school system, serving on boards and committees. Also on her agenda is the possibility of mentoring in the high school.
“If the principal will allow me, I’d like to mentor in the ‘Lunch Buddy’ program,” said Benson.
Wishing the in-coming school committee success in their role as representatives of the town’s future through its children, Benson had positive thoughts. “Members should understand what the stature of a public officer is and do the best they can in serving in an ethical and logical manner.”
As for the possibility of reduction in the number of school committee members as a November ballot question, Benson was supportive of the initiative and the voice of the residents of the town.
“If it is going to provide for a more workable environment between the town council and school committee, I have no qualms about it. The ultimate decision should be made by the voters.”
In thanking the voters and residents of the town for providing her support in public service, the veteran educator and politician had this to say:
“The voters have always showed me support in every election and office I have served. For that I am thankful and grateful. Their support has never been from a partisan point of view but that from citizens and parents who knew that I would represent them with integrity.”
Tracey O’Neill is a reporter experienced in the South County area and is an independent contractor with SRI Newspapers.