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Candidate forum was informative

September 24, 2010 6 comments

Eddie Long has been a hot topic this week, but the world will continue to spin and there are issues that affect us now and into the future. I had the opportunity to attend a forum for candidates running for open board of education seats. The first of three forums was held at the Delta Sigma Theta/Kappa Alpha Psi Community Action Center in South DeKalb, and sponsored by EduKALB. Here are some things I took away from the get together. First, only one incumbent showed up; Jay Cunningham from district 5. I was surprised because my expectation was that no incumbent would show. Cunningham was the classic incumbent. He played on his experience, and made it known that now was not the time to change the board since newer members would have to play catch up. When asked his top priority for fixing the system, his reply was to work with the present members to fix the system then find a new superintendent. His opponents, Dr. Kirk Nooks and Jaques Hall did well though Hall’s inexperience showed. Hall made one comment that struck me as odd considering he is running for the school board. In his intro he commented that he was thankful he did not have any kids in the school system. Not a great thing to say when you are talking to people who have kids in the system. How can I trust you to do what’s right for the system if you would not send your own kids there? All of the other candidates were impressive. Corey Wilson running in district 3 seemed passionate about being on the school board, and has young children attending DeKalb schools in his district. He did refer to himself in the third person a lot, which for me is a bit humorous. The two most impressive candidates were Nancy Jester and Donna Edler. Both were passionate and very well informed. Edler wants to see more in depth reviews of policies such as ethics and nepotism. Jester wants to see the board and the system justify dollars spent every few years in an attempt to maintain better control of the systems budget. I had an opportunity to speak with jester afterwards, and she is full of Ideas, some of which should be put in place whether she wins or not. We talked about involvement by parents, and she stated that the board meets at a time and place that is not as convenient as it could she would like to see meetings held late, like 7pm and a possible return to moving meetings to various places throughout the district. We talked about poverty’s effect on the system, charter schools and the mission of public education in general. She calls public schools a social gift and sees it as the one tool that can arrest the transmission of poverty. I do not know Jim Redovian, but if Jester gets enough exposure and her message reaches enough people she could make some noise. Over all it was a cordial event with few direct shots taken at the incumbents, with the exception of Dr. Nooks who opened up with a few barbs at Jay Cunningham. In the end I was most disappointed at the turnout. If you subtract the candidates, the sponsor groups and the families of the candidates, there may have been at most a dozen citizens. I think that was due in part because of the lack of advertising. I doubt many know that these forums are being held. Heck out doubt if many even care. There are two more of these forums in the next few weeks. One is at Dunwoody city hall and the other is at DeKalb Medical’s auditorium on North Decatur Road.