Eight candidates vying for three seats on the Quincy School Board

Posted: Mar. 22, 2013 2:57 pm Updated: Apr. 18, 2013 6:15 pm

Herald-Whig Staff Writer

The Quincy School Board is guaranteed to have three new members after the April 9 election.

This is because all three incumbents whose terms are expiring -- Bill Daniels, Thomas Dickerson and Steven Krause -- decided not to seek re-election, thereby producing a wide-open race among the eight candidates.

Competing for those three seats are Bobette Cawthon, Richard Jones, Ronnie McKenzie, Jamie Foster, K. Rollie Platt, Richard McNay, Sheldon Bailey and Sayeed Ali.

Cawthon, a broker associate with Century 21, earned the top spot on the ballot by winning a lottery between her and Jones, whose name appears second on the ballot. Both were waiting in line to file their nominating petitions when the filing period opened Dec. 17, so they were deemed to filed simultaneously. Since candidates' names are placed on the ballot in the order in which they file, the lottery was needed to determine if Cawthon or Jones would be listed first.

This marks the second time Jones has sought a seat on the Quincy School Board. In the April 2011 election, he placed sixth among 11 candidates running for four seats.

This is the first time the seven other candidates have attempted to earn a seat on the School Board.

McKenzie is in a unique position among the candidates. He not only is running for a four-year term on the School Board, but he is simultaneously running as a Republican write-in candidate for 1st Ward alderman.

McKenzie, a business owner, said he decided to run for both seats because he wants to serve on the Quincy City Council, but he also feels an urge to serve the Quincy School District.

"I do have five kids now enrolled in the Quincy School Board system, and their education is vitally important to me, and the decisions that are made on the School Board are vitally important to me," he said. "They need to be made in the best interest of all of our children here in the city of Quincy."

McKenzie was asked if would be more inclined to attend a City Council meeting or a School Board meeting if he were elected to both governmental bodies, and both scheduled meetings simultaneously on the same day.

"To be honest with you, the School Board and the educational process of our children are a little bit more important to me than the City Council," he said.

"I will make every effort to make sure I'm there representing the 1st Ward and doing everything that's needed for the 1st Ward. But again, our children's future is very important, and tomorrow is theirs. They don't belong to us, so we have to do everything that we need to do as parents, as citizens, as elected officials to make sure our children have a better chance at success."

Jones also is in a unique position. As a member of the School Board's Building Committee, he is the only candidate currently serving on any board-sanctioned committee.

In addition, as business representative for Local 34 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Jones is actively involved in negotiating the first-ever contract for 11 employees in the school district's maintenance shop.

It's not known if the negotiations will be completed before the elections. However, Jones told The Herald-Whig he intends to retire in July, so he would be able then to devote his full attention to serving on the School Board.

Foster, who works as chapter assistant for the Central Illinois Alzheimer's Association, is also an active PTA volunteer. She is president of the Dewey Elementary School PTA and is slated to become the District 8 PTA president in the 2014-15 academic year, which would put her in a dual role representing the interest of children if she also gets elected to the School Board.

Platt has a background in education and coaching. He retired after 34 years as a teacher and administrator. One of his last roles was to serve as principal of Quincy High School.

McNay is the president and owner of McNay Truck Line in Quincy and has been active as a volunteer and board member with several community organizations.

Bailey is a marketing manager for ADM. He, too, has experience serving on community boards and committees and as a volunteer in local schools.

Ali works in financial consulting and also has been involved in the community.

All eight of the candidates are parents with children, though not all of the children are currently enrolled in the Quincy school system.

The School Board will be losing a combined 26 years of experience and leadership with the departures of Daniels, Dickerson and Krause.

Daniels, the current board president, is completing his third four-year term. Dickerson, a former board president, has been on the board for 10 years. Krause, the board's current vice president, is finishing his first and only term.

Once the three newly elected board members are seated in either late April or early May, a new board president and vice president be elected.