By EDWARD HUSAR
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
Richard McNay, Sheldon Bailey and Sayeed Ali ran as a team and won as a team in Tuesday's Quincy School Board election, but they say that doesn't mean they will vote as a team when they take their seats on the seven-member board.
"Please let the people know that we are not a voting bloc," McNay said.
McNay, president and owner of McNay Truck Line, was the top vote-getter among the eight candidates vying to fill the seats being relinquished by Bill Daniels, Thomas Dickerson and Steven Krause, who did not seek re-election.
McNay led Tuesday's balloting with 6,666 votes, while Ali had 6,029 and Bailey 4,635. Also earning votes were K. Rollie Platt with 3,497, Bobette Cawthon 3,407, Richard Jones 3,027, Jamie Foster 2,179 and Ronnie McKenzie 1,518.
Stephanie Erwin, Jeff Mays, Scott Stone and Melvin "Bud" Niekamp are the holdover members of the board.
McNay said he, Bailey and Ali were approached by "a group of people who care about the school system" and were asked to become candidates for the School Board.
"They recruited the three of us, and we thought it would be a good idea to put all three names on one yard sign," he said. "It's a lot easier to put out one yard sign with three names than three yard signs with one name."
The McNay-Bailey-Ali signs were all over town, making it appear the three were running as a unit. However, McNay insists they will be serving as individuals once they are seated in late April or early May.
"All three of us ran with no agenda, no pre-determined ideas on what should be done," McNay said. "Did we know each other prior to that group of people that was seeking candidates? No. I did not know Sheldon. I did not know Sayeed."
Bailey, marketing manager for ADM, and Ali, who works in finance, both agreed that the three believed they should run together as a team.
"We knew that we could work together even if we didn't agree on all the issues, which we probably won't, but we knew there would be a respect between the three of us," Bailey said.
"We have our own views and will probably disagree here or there," Ali said. "But as far as core issues on keeping the kids and our school system first, I think we really agree on that. But we're going to be individuals, for sure."
Ali said "priority number one" for the School Board will be "to see what we can do to make smart, fiscally sound decisions — not just for the short term, but for the long term."
Bailey said his top priority will be to look at "improving the learning environment in school and especially talking about discipline." He said students need to have respect for one another and their teachers, and all students need to be made aware up front of what type of behavior is expected of them.
McNay didn't want to point to any one issue.
"This is a thousand-page book, and we're on the first page and first paragraph," he said. "I know there's a lot of issues that we're going to be facing, but I think that I'm still in my infancy learning about what we really need to focus on."
He's sure, however, that financial issues are bound to command a big part of the board's attention, but he is confident the district can "weather the storm" in the months and years ahead.
"Everyone might not be pleased how we go through the storm, but we're going to do our best with the revenue that's available to get the kids the best education we possibly can," he said.
Bailey also brings a positive outlook to the district's financial situation, which improved in the past year with the voter-approved passage of a $6.2 million working cash bond issue.
"We have to expect that you can work yourself through any real tough issues," he said. "Finances (are) something that we all struggle through at our work and our home. It's no different in the Quincy public schools. There (are) never enough funds.
"But education isn't only about having funds. It's not just about having brand-new schools. It's about doing what's right for the children with the resources you have available."
With the addition of three new members who were elected to their first four-year terms Tuesday, the Quincy School Board will look like this when it reorganizes in late April or early May:
New members Richard McNay, Sheldon Bailey and Sayeed Ali will join existing members Melvin "Bud" Niekamp, who has served on the board since 1989; Jeff Mays, who is in the middle of his second term; and Stephanie Erwin and Scott Stone, who were both elected to their first terms in 2011.