The Yadkin County Chamber of Commerce held a candidate forum for those seeking Yadkin County Board of Education seats last Thursday at the Yadkin County Courthouse.
The forum has been sponsored since 1996 by the chamber and is a chance for the public to hear from the candidates and to ask questions.
There are four seats open for the Yadkin County Board of Education. Each candidate serves for a term of four years. The candidates are Lynn Allred, Rex Baity, Hazel Brown, Joe Dezern, Jennifer Hemric, Larry Vestal, Darrell Wooten, and Sharon Yale. They will be on the Yadkin County primary ballot for the election on May 8. Rex Baity, Hazel Brown, Joe Dezern, and Larry Vestal are already on the board, seeking reelection. Darrell Wooten was not present.
All of the candidate had time to speak about their campaigns prior to audience questions written down beforehand and read by moderator Jim Drum.
Candidates state their reasons for seeking board of education seats
Allred said that he wanted to take community involvement and suggestions of the community to the highest level possible and incorporate social media as a way to listen to the community.
Baity talked about working with commissioners and staying informed on all of the issues.
Brown discussed accomplishments of the board, which she has been on for 12 years, mentioning that Forbush High School had the highest EOG scores it has ever had this year.
Dezern discussed having an open line of communication between the board and the superintendent, and wants to focus on student achievement and improve graduation and dropout rates.
Challenger Hemric, who has children in Yadkin county schools, said that children are the community’s most valuable resource and, her love and focus is on the children.
Candidate Yale also has children in Yadkin County schools and said that as a board member she would like to see the board strive for academic excelled without losing the core Christian and conservative values that are part of Yadkin County.
Larry Vestal, a current board member seeking reelection, said that the board has faced tough decisions in the past with the economy the way it is and wants to serve another term partly because he knows that there will be more tough decisions to make in the future.
Questions from the public
Those in attendance wrote down questions for the candidates. When asked about re-districting, all of the candidates concurred that it was not needed at this time. Also, all were impressed with the Yadkin Early College High School, which will graduate its first set of students this year.
Another topic of note was Yadkin County’s current sexual education program, and the question posed to the candidates about whether they favor abstinence-only education or not. Candidate Yale noted that public schools must have a comprehensive program to comply with state laws and that Yadkin County currently has two programs. She also said parents can also opt that their children not attend the program. The candidates all concurred that they believed that system was working.
The lack of funding was a topic of discussion. Dezern spoke of the difficulty to recruit teachers at job fairs when competing against other school systems with more money and signing bonuses. Dezern also mentioned, however, that Yadkin County Schools cuts jobs as a last resort, preferring to cut hours first.
Candidate Yale said that she wants to provide the best opportunities for children and that “[we should] expected the unexpected of all our children regardless of their background.”
At the conclusion of the questions that the audience had previously written down, Drum opened up the floor to questions from the audience. No one took the opportunity to address the candidates.
Other candidates in attendance
In addition to board of education candidates seeking election or reelection, the following local candidates were in attendance and had three minutes to speak as to why they were seeking to be elected. Those in attendance were: District Court Judge Jeannie Reavis Houston, running unopposed for District Court Judge in District 23; Democrat Delmas Parker, running for N.C. Senate District 31; Republican Mark Hollo and Democrat William Stinson, running for N.C. House of Representatives District 73; and Democrat Walter Smith, running for Commissioner of Agriculture.
Several candidates discussed education during their three-minute presentations. Democrat William Stinson claimed he was running for education and discussed the lack of money and textbooks in poor condition that students in Yadkin County had. He said that he would fight for education.
His Republican counterpart and incumbent Mark Hollo touted his past accomplishments in Congress, including a large tax cut. He said that “government needs to keep its promises to the people.” Hollo and Stinson will face each other in the general election.
N.C. Senate Democratic candidate Delmas Parker said that “education is a great equalizer” and that the key to jobs was education.
The forum concluded at approximately 7:30 p.m. and about 35 members of the public were in attendance. The candidates stayed and mingled with the members of the public.
Reach Tara E. Moore at 835-1513 or email@example.com.