After watching this video replay of the Wylie ISD school board candidate forum, it's really difficult not to like all four candidates:
This blog post is partially about me deeply liking and respecting all four of them. Kudos to them for turning my head, because that is not an easy task.
Forgetting about the behind-the-scenes campaigning and supporters, in this video I saw four people who were humble, honest, caring and credible, and who endeared themselves to the community. Certainly, the students will not be for want with any of them. Though I would like to see a lot less group-think by all four candidates, I believe Wylie ISD will be in good hands with any one of them.
But will taxpayers?
This is where I begin to draw from that curmudgeony inner tax-muse for the other part of this blog post. That's because I am welcoming of more diverse views on these boards and councils when it comes to spending our money; one where deep investigations and discourse take place over budgeting and taxation, rather than shallow questions tossed lazily at staff and then rolling over because, "staff knows best".
I'm a roll your sleeves up and dig your hands in up to the armpits kind of gal when it comes to my tax dollars. I'm a researcher and intellectual thinker, but I recognize not everybody aspires to that. It's work.
I do believe we'll get that from Dr. Jacob Day. He knows a thing or two about research and overcoming budget obstacles. Not so sure about the others, though.
Certainly some are more well-spoken than others like Stacie Smith, but not everyone excels at public speaking. She was absolutely eloquent and mesmerizing.
Except we've seen the road where articulate, smooth-talking politicians have taken us. Look to Mayor Hogue for your inspiration. Taxpayers are just now getting him to toe the line on taxes. And it hasn't come without a brutal battle, pitting friend against friend at times. But who doesn't want someone who can easily roll everything off their tongue to represent us? They look good, right?
For me that smacks too much of Washington DC, where a candidate can tell you they support what you support, and then covertly work behind the scenes advocating for the opposite. In no way am I suggesting Smith is like a professional politician. She's not. But we have to look beyond public speaking performance in our candidates because it takes more than that to earn the right to represent us. It takes more than volunteer hours; more than being a former teacher; more than having sat on a board. It takes intestinal fortitude to remember, at all costs, who put them there. A painful lesson our council members are just now learning. A lesson our previous school board members learned from their folly under a foolish superintendent they had in Dr. Fuller.
Do our candidates have what it takes to represent taxpayers over the students should the chips ever be down? Old-timers around town remember fighting that battle with the district when we had bond after bond thrust at us by Fuller. Times were tough back then. Do these candidates have what it takes to pick up the torch for taxpayers? It's our money, after all.
In the forum, I was also highly charmed by Pastor Raymond Perry. This man showed us a wonderful soul. One that places God in everything he does and every word he speaks, which is something to think about in a world where so many are divided. Sure, we have God-fearing servants in WISD, but Perry gives us this on a much deeper intellectual level. Certainly something to ponder.
What I don't want to see pouring out of these candidates is rote memorization of facts and figures from the Texas Board of Education's propaganda, or affirmation that our current school board is functioning like one large brain. I don't want one convergent brain, I want everyone to use their own. I want to see more research and in-depth analysis of our school's budget and taxes. We need a level of co-cooperation between administrators, trustees and taxpayers, on a much deeper level than in the past, on how to fix our school financing. Group-think is dangerous and I saw quite a bit of that in this forum.
While we have one trustee actively advocating for transparency in Barbara Goss, and we see daily reminders of stellar cheerleaders in all of Wylie's trustees, I want to see the type of deep-thinking out of our school board candidates like we get from Councilman Porter at the city level. Roll up those sleeves and dig in. He's spoiled us, I guess.
For now, I must be happy with our lot to select from. That said, I really dig the financial background that Nick Klein offers and secretly hope he can be the voice of finance that we desperately need on that board - someone who will spend extra time researching school funding and taxes because taxpayers need a clear resident expert on the subject. We need someone who will advocate for us, not just the students and teachers. That's the part that scares me most about what I heard in that forum. Lots of feel-good discussion was had about the students, but who will truly advocate for the taxpayers? I just didn't feel it out of any of them. Just something to consider as you decide who to vote for.
The good news is that when Councilmen Porter and Wallis ran for city council, they set the candidate bar very high in Wylie. This new crop of candidates has done it again.
Though I've selected my school board candidates already, for reasons I still stand by, I believe it is a true testament to the high quality candidates we are finally cultivating in Wylie. These four candidates have shown voters that there exists highly educated, intelligent, ethical and talented people in Wylie, and it is critical we keep this momentum going for future elections. Wylie is too mature now for candidates that bring less than their all or less credentials than taxpayers deserve.
Thank you to the four people who stepped up to run. Your efforts are appreciated.