Who to vote for on April 9th

In less than 7 days, we will be wrapping up the 2013 Consolidated Election. Unfortunately, most races are uncontested. There are a few that are in fact contested, including the Parkland Board of Trustees and the Unit 4 Board of Education. This post will focus on the latter, but the theme I wish to put forward is “embracing change.” To that end, there is only one candidate for the Parkland BOT that effectively meets that criteria.

You will be voting on April 9th, right?

For the Champaign School District, there are 5 candidates running for 3 seats (each are four-year terms). One of my desires in writing this post is to join in and aid the ongoing discussion about these candidates; it is exceptionally difficult (if not impossible) to be purely objective, so I am throwing in with my subjective thoughts as well. Some of you will disagree with me, maybe even strongly – that is good. I invite those who disagree to speak up. That’s the whole point. (NOTE: I already voted so I am not engaging in this conversation for the sake of figuring out who I want to vote for). Overall, I think each candidate has good intentions and brings something to the plate. The question is, do they bring what you want?

The candidates

Chuck Jackson: I have written before about Chuck, whose campaign I am very much involved with. He brings a desire for improved and enhanced bilateral communication, which of course I am hugely in favor of. 🙂 Chuck helped me out with pitching a proposed change to Board Policy to include Conversational Meetings last year. He has a bit of good experience and rapport with teachers and a true desire to see all kids excel, not just the ones for whom our current educational models work well.

Lynn Stuckey: Lynn is the only candidate who has been attending board meetings “forever”. She obviously has a passion to speak up as a community member, a quality I respect very much. As such, some people will consider her stance and approach as either very good and much needed, others will think she is hard to work with. To me, they are different sides of the same coin; personally, I think she could really shake things up, which I find a very interesting prospect. She is very good at doing her homework and researching the facts, and then telling people about it whether they like it or not.

Laurie Bonnett: Even when I was running for the board appointment last year, I respected that Laurie not only is concerned about her constituents (granted, she is not serving in a public capacity but is employed for an elected official)  but she has a bit of experience, in a number of different contexts, in listening to and interacting with her constituents. It is interesting that she has slowly evolved her platform closer to themes that I want to see in a board.

John Williams III: (EDIT: Updated with new website) In all my interactions with John, I have been pleasantly pleased with his congeniality and open nature. I respect that, like current board member Jamar Brown, John Williams is very concerned about discipline issues within Unit 4. Some may ask, is discipline really that big of an issue, big enough to invest in two African-American men on a board of seven people? Given all the racial issues that exist in our society, given the overwhelming disproportionate number of people of color in various forms of correctional systems, I have to say “yes!”

Scott MacAdam: Scott’s platform is built around his financial experience – it totally makes sense that he is bringing his strength to the table. He also throws around the buzzword of “transparency”, and I am persuaded to look back upon his previous experience as a board member to see how that played out. Me personally, I don’t see it. Maybe you do. No doubt, Mr. MacAdam has a depth of financial experience that totally dwarfs my puny check writing skills, but I have to wonder, with the district recently promoting a previous principal to the position of Executive Director of Business Services, do we need a board member with such a background? Scott is also very much in line with the current board; he would fit right in.

Concluding thoughts

As I stated when I ran for the vacancy, I am looking for better communication and an unprecedented level of transparency that further builds more trust. I want to be careful with overusing the word “transparency” – the government has about beaten it to death without much to show for it. The idea is that the school district and the community must work together. In order to collaborate, we must listen to each other and assume the best (ie, trust), and when questions are asked, as much information should be shared as possible as a show of faith, but also to help get another pair of eyes looking at the data (“two eyes are better than one”). It is very much like a healthy marriage; without open communication, you cannot have trust. Without trust, you are sunk (or at least sinking).

Additional Resources

– NG endorsement: The NG endorsed Chuck Jackson, John Williams III and Scott MacAdam. As I saw on Twitter, someone was reflecting on the fact that the NG did not endorse any women and chose all men instead. I contend that the NG missed the target in thinking that this group would bring the necessary oversight over the next couple of momentous years. Of course, this is all editorializing and opining, right? =) What is your opinion?

– WCIA “new faces”: When this first aired, they botched Laurie’s last name. They also had a lengthy segment quoting board president Stig Lanesskog, but they have since removed that (or perhaps it is in a different news segment which I cannot now find).

– The NG previously surveyed the candidates: Chuck JacksonScott MacAdam, Lynn StuckeyJohn Williams, Laurie Bonnett.

– Also, the CFT has surveyed the candidates and I believe is circulating information to the teachers – I don’t think the survey results were made public, but if the CFT president is willing, I would love to post them.

– And finally, keep your eyes peeled for the Official ChambanaMoms endorsement (as heard on twitter) – I’ll update the post when I find out it was been published.

So, again, it is your turn. I cannot carry on a one-sided conversation. I have given you my thoughts; tell me why you think I am wrong (or right), and spill your own thoughts. Which three candidates would be pivotal in pushing the board in the direction you want the board to go in?

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2 Responses to “Who to vote for on April 9th”

  1. Another look at the school board candidates | Citizen4: A citizen's blog about Champaign Unit 4 Says:

    […] was reflecting on my previous post, and after talking to a few folks, came up with a more objective look at what the candidates are […]

  2. Another look at the school board candidates | Citizen4: A citizen's blog about Champaign Unit 4 Says:

    […] was reflecting on my previous post, and after talking to a few folks, came up with a more objective look at what the candidates are […]


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