Monday, October 31, 2011

2 Days Left - The Final Countdown

The title is a little misleading, since it's actually only about 8 hours until the polls open.  But in keeping with the theme, I bring you the next to last installment of the Final Countdown of reasons to vote for me.

Number 2 - Enthusiasm

I want to be on the School Board; that's apparent.  There is a difference, however, between doing something because you're passionate about it and doing something because others want you to do it.  It's that passion for making a difference and that passion for public education that makes me truly enthusiastic about this opportunity.

I'm enthusiastic about being on the School Board because I believe there are things the Board can do to really make a positive difference.  I have lots of ideas and never stop looking for ideas that can move us forward, and it's exciting to think about being in a position to cultivate policies and programs that can give those ideas life.

What is really most exciting for me, though, is the opportunity to get on the School Board now, while my children are still so young, so I can have a chance to shape the education they will receive in the coming years.  I can't think of any better motivation or anything that could make me more enthusiastic about being on the School Board in Humboldt.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

3 Days Left - The Final Countdown

We're down to the last three days of the election journey.  So far in this countdown, I've made my case for being on the School Board for my vested interest and commitment to our schools.  Today, it's about ideas.

Number 3 - Ideas

I don't have all the answers; nobody does.  What I do have is the ability to come up with ideas to make our system better.  I am an engineer, and engineers are people that find workable solutions to solve problems.  We start by identifying the problem, developing possible solutions, testing those proposed solutions to see if they're feasible, then applying those solutions in ways that will solve the problem.

Over the last 15 months I've been honored to be Chairman of the Education Committee for the Humboldt Chamber of Commerce, and in that role I have led several initiatives designed to attack some of the problems in our schools.  Our schools have a lot of good things going, and our committee only exists as a means to foster ideas and work collaboratively to bring about improvement. 

Our committee planted the seed and jump started the formation of the HHS Alumni Association.  We are working on a market research project that is designed to find out what factors parents use to choose schools and how they view Humboldt as an education option.  The committee is also tackling our school system's online image and developed an alliance between students at HHS and the school district website administrator.  These students will be involved in the development and maintenance of information on the websites, giving them great real-world experience that helps their school.

We don't have to reinvent the wheel.  We just need to have people on the Board that are willing and capable of finding ideas that work and figuring out a way to bring them to Humboldt.  That's what I bring to the table, and that's another reason to vote for me for School Board.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

4 Days Left - The Final Countdown

Ok, so it's a little late in the day to post this, but it's the first chance I've gotten to write.  It is Saturday, the weather was nice, and I walked 3.5 miles today going door-to-door in the neighborhood.

So, in keeping the Final Countdown theme, I give you reason number 4 you should vote for me for School Board.

Number 4 - Commitment

Yesterday I talked about having a vested interest in the schools, both from the perspective of a parent and a citizen of Humboldt.  Today it's about my commitment to this community and its future.

We all have choices in where we live.  Some have more flexibility than others, but for the most part, we choose to live where we live.  The reasons for choosing Humboldt vary, but whether we're here because of family, jobs, cost of living, or whatever reason, we are all here and should all care what happens to our community.

I chose to live here, just like the previous five generations of my family, and I am committed to doing whatever I can to ensure Humboldt's longevity and sustainability.  There are a lot of facets to a community's quality of life, but almost without question, a community rises and falls on the quality of its schools.  For Humboldt to prosper and progress, our schools must be a source of pride for our residents and must be valued as an asset rather than a liability. 

I am committed to our schools, and that commitment does not end at the school building doors, either.  I have said this all along, but after talking with some neighbors today, it seems as though it needs repeating.  We live in Humboldt, we believe in public schools, and we believe our children can receive a quality education in Humboldt City Schools.  So yes, we are going to send them here, no matter how many of our own citizens and even elected officials try to tell us otherwise.

Friday, October 28, 2011

5 Days Left - The Final Countdown

Now that I have that song stuck in your head...
We're down to the last five days before the big day.  It's been a long journey and an interesting journey, and I would be lying if I said I wasn't ready for it to be over.  It's taken a lot of time and a lot of money to campaign for this position, but it has been worth every minute and every dollar.

For these last five days, I want to take the opportunity to count down the five most important reasons to vote for me to be your Ward 4 representative on the School Board in Humboldt.

Number 5 - Vested Interest

What do I mean by that?  We all have a vested interest in the success of our schools, whether or not we have children in the system.  The schools affect home values, industry recruitment, and so many facets of our quality of life.  For those of us with school-aged children or young children that will be going to school in Humboldt, we have the most important interest to look after.  We are responsible for the education of our children. 

I'm not saying everybody on the School Board should necessarily have children in the system to be qualified.  However, a person that is a capable leader AND a parent of young children is an ideal candidate for this position.  I think that's pretty intuitive, and from what I am hearing from the community, I'm not the only one that feels this way.  I hope you consider the fact that no member of the current School Board has school-aged children, and I hope you will vote for me so I can work for the betterment of the education for all children.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Why Bother?

It's a question I've been asked, both directly and indirectly, since I started this campaign.  Why bother?  Why would you want to be on the School Board?  My friends have asked.  My family has asked.  And at this point in the campaign, even I have to ask.  Why do I want to put myself through this?

I have it pretty good right now.  I am doing some good work on the Chamber of Commerce Education Committee.  I guided the restart of the HHS Alumni Association and am conducting a pretty comprehensive and innovative survey/market research project on our school system, which are two of the things I've wanted to see happen for a long time.  I can work toward progress in our schools from the outside and not have to go through the trouble of getting elected to the School Board.

I could be spending my evenings playing with the kids before they go to bed, or working on the old house we just bought that we are trying fixing up.  I could have spent the hundreds of dollars on a mini-vacation or on Christmas gifts for my beautiful wife, rather than on yard signs and brochures.

I could have taken the easy route and just continued trying to work for change through the Education Committee and the Alumni Association.  But that's not good enough.  I feel, and so many people I have talked to feel, that we need a change in leadership on this School Board.  We need new ideas.  We need more than just a board that approves regular business and occasionally hires a superintendent.  We need people that aren't just on the board because some people are afraid of change.  We don't need people that only know how to ask, "Why?"  We need people that only know how to ask, "Why not?"  And we need people that want to be members of the Humboldt Board of Education because they are making the most important investment of their lives in our schools: their own children's education.

That's why I bother.  That's why I spend every waking minute thinking about how I can convince people in Ward 4 that I am the right man for the job or thinking about ways I can bring about improvement once I'm on there.  That's why I get out there and knock on doors when I really want to be at home watching Veggie Tales with my daughter.  I'm not doing this because I have some political ambition, and I'm not doing this for some sort of prestige or power trip.  This is School Board, by and large the most thankless and dead-end political position out there. 

I say this a lot, but I think it's important to point out again, that I decided to run for this office over a year ago.  I have been attending School Board meetings for a couple of years, and I knew this was something I wanted to do long before petitions were picked up in May.  I never knew it would be this difficult, largely because I was assured until May that I would not have to run against the incumbent.  But even when he changed his mind and decided to run for another term, there was never a question of whether I was still going to run.  Even then I thought, "too many people in this town are fed up with our schools to re-elect the same person again." 

I've run across some sentiment that I shouldn't run against Mr. Lewis because he's a nice guy and it's not a very nice thing to do.  These local elections are tough because they inevitably pit neighbors and friends against each other, and that's what keeps many good candidates from putting their name in the hat.  Well, I say that is exactly what is wrong with local government a lot of times.  We shouldn't have people running unopposed election after election because we don't want to hurt any one's feelings.  We shouldn't vote for people because we go to church together or drink coffee together in the mornings.  This is too important to be a popularity contest. 

If this wasn't important to me, if I didn't have a burning desire to do some good for my alma mater and my children's future schools, I certainly wouldn't subject myself to this.  It's difficult to see the other guy's sign in the yard of someone I thought supported me.  It's difficult to try to unseat the 30-year incumbent when I have to first let people know who I am before I can even get to the point of asking them to vote for me.  But if this was a cake walk, everybody would do it. 

I am not afraid of defeat.  I know that if I lose this election, there are still ways I can work for improvement.  I know that the School Board will remain largely the same as it is now.  If I lose I will simply be disappointed that we weren't ready to embrace change.  Change for the sake of change is not what we need, but I don't think many people in Humboldt are content with declining enrollment, apathy in the community, below-average test scores, and horrible reputation.  I think we're all tired of being the butt of jokes and having our property values perpetually stagnant or worse, declining, because of the perception of our schools.  I'm not running for School Board because I think I can snap my fingers and change all that overnight.  I am running for School Board because I know things will never change until we get people in there that are willing to think outside the box and come up with ideas to start the long, uphill climb toward success. 

Humboldt Schools are not what they used to be, but I still believe in what they can be.  That's why I bother.  Let's all bother to trust our schools to the next generation of leadership, to someone that has a long-term vested interest in their success.