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Dignity, respect, and an opportunity to succeed for ALL of our children
Why I am Running
I have, of course, disagreed with some key decisions of the past few years. These have included: how the return to school was handled during the pandemic last school year; the recent increase in the millage rate; the overall lack of transparency; and the support for the previous Superintendent when it was clear his actions were detrimental to CSD. I am open to addressing any of these issues if necessary. However, my primary focus will be on the future, helping to heal any rifts in the community and working to implement the points outlined in my platform.
I want to work toward an inclusive school environment that provides dignity, respect, and an opportunity to succeed for ALL of our children. I know many families who are being forced to leave CSD for private school because the district is not addressing their children’s unique learning needs. For those families with fewer resources, that is simply not an option.
I am also running to foster a sense of respect and civility among our community in the conversation about our schools. The tone of the conversation has often been toxic and divisive, particularly on social media. As a member of the school board, I will view my role as a listening one, not a commanding one. I will do my best to take in all perspectives on the issues that divide us. I will endeavor to design policy that balances each legitimate concern and best serves our diverse population. I will endeavor to be a good role model for our children in how to handle conflict in a dignified manner and how to treat our neighbors with respect.
I also want to ensure that we are able to maintain safe in-person schooling with CoVID-19 surging again and continuing to be a challenge. Many of our students have been devastated by the loss of in-person schooling, and everything possible must be done to ensure that does not happen again. At the same time, we need to allow those concerned about sending their children in-person to have a viable virtual learning option.
Although I would be truly humbled and honored to serve if elected, I am not running because I have deep seated need to be an elected official. I do believe there needs to be active debate on the direction of the school district, and that cannot happen to any meaningful extent without multiple candidates.
It has not been an easy decision for me to run. The substantial time commitment and public vitriol one can face makes it daunting. However, my eyes are wide open on the responsibilities and challenges one faces as an elected official, especially to such an important position as school board, where my decisions will impact people’s children. I stand ready to serve and to give it my all.
I am originally from Ithaca, New York, the Decatur of the northeast, but I have lived in the Atlanta area since 1997. I have lived in Decatur with my wife and son since 2010. I received my undergraduate degree at Binghamton University in Political Science and my graduate degree in Public Policy from the University of Southern California. Despite not attending law school (on purpose), I have found myself working for a law firm for the past 20 years. Specifically, I work for the international law firm Dentons, in its Government Affairs Practice, where I assist clients at the local, state and federal levels on a variety of issues.
You may know me from my role in the long drama, “Annexation Wars: DeKalb County Schools v. CSD.” I am proud of helping the parties to reach an agreement between DeKalb Schools and CSD to end this protracted dispute. My work on that matter and other education matters has helped me to become intimately familiar with the operations of a school district and the complex set of concerns that goes into a school board’s decision-making. My work with the General Assembly has helped me develop relationships that I believe will go a long way toward helping CSD fix its unnecessarily strained relationship with the DeKalb County state legislators who preside over such important issues as homestead exemptions and board district boundaries. This is something unique that I bring to the table.
Maybe more important than my work experience, I served for two years as the Co-President of the PTA for Oakhurst Elementary School and then another two years in the same position for the FAVE PTO (my son is currently an 8th grader at Renfroe Middle School). Further, I grew up in an education household, as my mother was an elementary school teacher for over 25 years, and to this day continues to be a leading advocate in her community for the educational needs and rights of students, especially students of color.
As a rule-following kid I was mortified that my mother would drive around with a bumper sticker that read “ Question Authority,” but I have learned to see the wisdom in that philosophy. If I am elected to the board I will not just ”go along to get along.” I will question authority when necessary and above all fight for all our children to be treated with the dignity, respect and the access to a good education that they all deserve. Finally, I promise to listen to all feedback from parents, teachers and students, and be responsive to all such civil discourse.