It was July of 1988 — Michael Jackson's "Dirty Diana" was the No. 1 song. George H. W. Bush was about to become president. Women's blazers came with shoulder pads. And that year, the Tigers beat the Gamecocks 29 – 10.
Also notable at the time? The Municipal Elected Officials Institute of Government graduated its first class with 47 mayors and councilmembers.
The first Municipal Elected Officials Institute class graduated in 1988.
In 2018, the Association will be celebrating 30 years of MEO Institute graduates at both Hometown Legislative Action Day on February 6 and at the Annual Meeting in July. In January of 1986 — 32 years ago — the Association launched the MEO Institute using satellite technology that was state of the art at the time to provide newly elected officials with training.
"There is a great need to get training to newly elected officials as soon as possible after their election," said Howard Duvall, the Association's executive director at the time.
In 1986, the training was designed for elected officials to complete their training in three years. Currently, elected officials may complete their training in only one year.
Over the past 32 years, training elected officials has evolved to not only include the option to complete the training in one year but also to include online classes. Plus, elected officials can get continuing education through the Advanced MEO Institute.
"It has evolved over the years because it has been responsive to current issues in the local communities," said Ray Anderson, a class of 1990 MEO Institute graduate and former councilmember who now serves as special assistant to the mayor in North Charleston.
"Any information that you can provide to newly elected officials is important so that they understand what their role is in their government," he said.
The next opportunity for elected officials to participate in MEO Institute training will be at the Association's winter meeting in February. On February 7, the day after Hometown Legislative Action Day, elected officials can participate in Sessions A or B or in one of the two Advanced Institute courses to be offered. Session A is open to all elected officials; Session B is limited to elected officials who have already completed Session A. The Advanced Institute is available only to graduates of the Elected Officials Institute.
Elected officials should refer to their institute transcript to determine which course they are eligible to take.