By Dorri Partain
March 30, 2016
KANSAS CITY, Missouri — For its most recent meeting, the Indian Mound Neighborhood Association went beyond its boundaries.
Last week’s regular monthly meeting of the Indian Mound Neighborhood Association was expanded to include a forum for Kansas City Public Schools Board of Education candidates. The upcoming school board election is scheduled for Tuesday, April 5. In conjunction with Northeast Alliance Together [NEAT], all candidates running for the four vacant seats were invited to attend. Taking the stage in the auditorium of Gladstone Elementary, seven candidates answered questions posed by moderator and Indian Mound President Bryan Stalder.
As the sole write-in candidate for the Third Sub-district, an area that covers much of the Historic Northeast, John Fierro is seeking the current board member Marisol Montero’s seat. Montero has not filed for re-election. Fierro, CEO of the Mattie Rhodes Center, stated he has made a commitment to community service, which is front and center to his philosophy. A graduate of Westport High School, he is also a parent and grandparent of children currently attending KCPS schools.
As a board member, his goal is to put more emphasis in early childhood education by offering free preschool to all children in the KCPS boundaries. Currently only one-fifth of preschool children are able to participate. He said he would also challenge the school board to work externally with the community, instead of internally, as they have in the past.
In the race for First District At- Large, Jennifer Wolfsie is unopposed and her name will not appear on the ballet during the election. By being the only candidate filing for the the uncontested seat, she has automatically been elected. This seat is currently occupied by Airick West, who is not seeking re-election.
In the First Sub-district race, Albert Ray, an architect, and Natalie Lewis, an educator, are both write-in candidates for the seat being vacated by current board chair Jon Hile. Three candidates are vying for the write-in vote in the Fifth Sub-district race; Bryan Dial, an educator in the private sector, Catina Taylor, an educator for KCPS, and Ajia Morris, a lawyer. Curtis Rogers currently holds that seat on the board. Northeast residents will not be voting for these candidates.
This isn’t the only opportunity community members had to meet with candidates. On Thursday, March 31, the League of Women Voters of Kansas City, Jackson, Clay and Platte Counties and the Kansas City Public Schools District Advisory Committee (DAC) will host a forum for School Board write-in candidates. Starting at 6 p.m. at Central Middle School, 3611 E. Linwood Blvd., all seven candidates who declared by March 15 have been invited. A League member will moderate the forum and candidates will have an opportunity to respond to written questions from the audience. The forum is free and the public is encouraged to take this opportunity to meet the candidates. The School Board election will be held Tuesday, April 5.
Voters will chose which write-in candidates they want for three positions:
• Sub-district One (currently held by Board Chair Jon Hile)
• Sub-district Three (currently held by Marisol Montero)
• Sub-district Five (currently held by Board Vice Chair Curtis L. Rogers)
Since no one successfully fulfilled the candidate filing requirements for these positions, write-in candidates will fill those spots.
All four new School Board members will be sworn-in during the Board’s Wednesday, April 13 meeting at the KCPS Board of Education building, 1211 McGee St. in downtown Kansas City, Mo. All new board positions would serve until 2019.