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Hutchinson: Learn more about candidates for city council, board of education

Your Local Candidates: In Their Own Words Nov. 5 2019 Kansas local election

Editor’s note: To help readers make their voting choices in the Nov. 5 general election for local offices, The Journal, the Kansas Leadership Center’s quarterly magazine, sent out a survey to more than 250 candidates in communities where our magazine’s readership is the largest. What follows is information from your local candidates, in their own words.

Update: Here for Tuesday’s unofficial election results for city council and school board, as reported by The Hutchinson News.

Hutchinson USD 308 Board of Education

Ron Fisher, candidate for Hutchinson USD 308 Board of Education

Please provide a brief introduction and a description of why you are running for office.

I’m a married father of two grown children (and grandfather of three). I live in Hutchinson, Kansas, with my wife. After more than twenty years in church work, I moved to Hutchinson with my wife in 2010. My first five years here I served as Director of Operations for Interfaith Housing Services. Since then I have run my own leadership coaching and consulting business called Fisher Coaching. I’m running for School Board because I believe that the health of any community is significantly connected with the health of its schools. Before moving to Hutchinson my wife and I were a part of a community that was unapologetic in not only their support of local schools but the accountability that they held those schools to. In my opinion that dynamic was strategic in propelling the vitality of that community forward. USD 308 has a legacy of strong education. It is my desire to foster continued support and accountability around that legacy.

Should you be elected, what is the single most important issue that you would like to see improvement on during your term in office? Please write a few sentences explaining your choice.

Raising the bar on the development of a culture that encourages creativity and innovation around the work of preparing students to be positive members of this unique community (and world). Hutchinson is a unique community with unique assets and challenges. In my opinion, more effective education in Hutchinson begins with acknowledging these and proactively engaging with them. This is about more than best practices. This is about constantly wondering about how to create more effective learning and growth for students in the midst of our unique situation. Creating a culture for students, teachers, staff and parents that challenge them to give their best efforts to uncovering more effective ways to make progress here seems critical.

As an office holder, how would you try to mobilize efforts to address the important issue you identified above? If you have a sense of specific steps you might take, please share those.

Engage the current superintendent and board to clarify:

  1. what a more effective and clarified sense of purpose looks like for USD 308 (given the distinctive assets and challenges of our community/world).
  2. what a more effective culture looks like to foster progress there.

Steps would include but not be limited to:

  1. My own learning. I’m sure there are dynamics that I just don’t currently understand about the challenges the district faces.
  2. Thoughtful questions. Inviting better processing by myself and others in the context of our learning.
  3. Listening.

Lance Patterson, candidate for Hutchinson USD 308 Board of Education

Please provide a brief introduction and a description of why you are running for office.

I have lived in Hutchinson with my wife, Aubrey for 16 years. During that time our family has grown to include three kids, Sadye, Lydia and Blake. We love Hutchinson and can’t think of a better place to raise our family. I spend my days working as the Director of Operations for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Hutchinson where I oversee programs that serve almost 1,000 youth each year. I also serve on the Food Bank of Reno County board and volunteer my time with various school and community projects. I am running for a position on the Hutchinson USD 308 School Board because I believe everyone should be involved in educating the children of our community. Through my work at the Boys & Girls Club I see the challenges that many of our youth face. I want to be there to help make sure all youth receive the type of education that will prepare them for future success no matter where they come from or the challenges they face.

Should you be elected, what is the single most important issue that you would like to see improvement on during your term in office? Please write a few sentences explaining your choice.

Continuing to find ways to better serve students who have experienced or are experiencing trauma. The research around Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) is alarming. When children experience a high number of ACEs, it can impact their health for the rest of their life. In addition, children going through those experiences face difficulties learning. Finding ways to not only better educate these children but also build relationships and resilience is something that will help our kids become successful adults.

As an office holder, how would you try to mobilize efforts to address the important issue you identified above? If you have a sense of specific steps you might take, please share those.

Continue to push the school to reach out to the community for support. I would:

  • Encourage our administration to continue to support the efforts of Resilience Reno County.
  • Encourage the new superintendent to get involved in the community and look for organizations that could help meet the schools needs.
  • Encourage continued partnership with Horizons and look for other opportunities that break down the barriers that exist between the support that is in our community and the people who need it.

Valarie Gibson-Smith, candidate for Hutchinson USD 308 Board of Education

Please provide a brief introduction and a description of why you are running for office.

I am a mom and a small business owner. I have had the privilege of serving on the Board of Education for almost 2 years, and I am hoping to continue that service for another term.

Should you be elected, what is the single most important issue that you would like to see improvement on during your term in office? Please write a few sentences explaining your choice.

The graduation rate and post-graduation student success are areas where our district can continue to improve.

As an office holder, how would you try to mobilize efforts to address the important issue you identified above? If you have a sense of specific steps you might take, please share those.

In January, I was fortunate to sit on the board as we hired our new superintendent. These goals have been identified as priorities. I would like to follow through with and support the superintendent as the district take steps in this direction.

The Journal did not receive responses to its survey from Hutchinson USD 308 Board of Education candidates Greg Meredith and Randall Gray. 

Hutchinson City Council, NE District

Jade Piros de Carvalho, candidate for Hutchinson City Council, NE District

Please provide a brief introduction and a description of why you are running for office.

I was born in raised in Hutchinson. I’m married and a mother to the most darling two-year-old daughter. I’ve had the honor of serving on the Hutchinson City Council for six years.

In addition to the council, I serve on several local boards and committees with the United Way, Hutchinson Community Foundation, Rotary Club and others. My full-time job is Director of Industry and Community Relations for IdeaTek. I’m running because I love my community and I believe in the power of local government to make positive changes in the daily lives of its citizens. I believe we have at the local level an ability to create policy change without the partisanship and gridlock that often times plagues state and federal government. I’m also running because there are important initiatives I’ve been involved with on council that impact housing, drug abuse, economic development and quality of life amenities. These initiatives need to be continued well into the future in order to make the biggest impact on our community. If elected, I’ll have the opportunity to contribute to furthering these efforts.

Should you be elected, what is the single most important issue that you would like to see improvement on during your term in office? Please write a few sentences explaining your choice.

There are several issues about which I’m passionate. The common thread among them all is the need for greater collaboration between local governing bodies and the public at large in contributing to solutions. Too often, USDs, cities and counties operate in territorial silos. Residents are disengaged.

I’d like to see a greater emphasis put on 1) engaging residents in issues that impact their quality of life and 2) local governing bodies working together to address issues that affect the quality of life for people they serve.

As an office holder, how would you try to mobilize efforts to address the important issue you identified above? If you have a sense of specific steps you might take, please share those.

I’d like to coordinate regular meetings between the city and county to discuss how we can work together with limited resources. Are there efficiencies we aren’t considering?

In this vein, a meeting with the administration of all USDs within the city limits is overdue. How can we work together to better serve our students/teachers/parents? To engage citizens, I’d like to see greater use of online and social media surveys by the city. Before our local paper experienced the last round of painful layoffs, I was in discussions about an initiative to encourage civility in political dialogue. I’m not sure how best to move forward with this idea now, but I’d like to explore ways to help people understand each other’s viewpoints and work together toward solutions instead of resorting to name calling that gets nothing accomplished.

The Journal did not receive responses to its survey from Hutchinson City Council, Northeast District, candidates Lovella Kelley and Joshua R. Naiman.

Hutchinson City Council, SE District

Steve Dechant, candidate for Hutchinson City Council, SE District

Please provide a brief introduction and a description of why you are running for office.

I am running for re-election to Hutchinson City Council. I have served my community for many years including the last 4 on City Council and view my continuation on Council as an extension of my community service, through which I hope to contribute to making Hutchinson the best it can be for all of our citizens.

Should you be elected, what is the single most important issue that you would like to see improvement on during your term in office? Please write a few sentences explaining your choice.

There is not a single most important issue. Approaching city government is a balance of allotting resources to 4 main areas: infrastructure/safety; quality of life; housing; and business development/job creation. Although differing amounts of financial resources are needed in each area, all are equally important to having a city which attracts, retains and continues to support the residents.

I’d like to see a greater emphasis put on 1) engaging residents in issues that impact their quality of life and 2) local governing bodies working together to address issues that affect the quality of life for people they serve.

As an office holder, how would you try to mobilize efforts to address the important issue you identified above? If you have a sense of specific steps you might take, please share those.

While different hot button issues arise and need to be dealt with it is important to remain focused on the overall needs of the city as well as the desires/wants of the residents to have a quality community to live, work, play and raise a family in. There should be a continual message to the community that all four elements are important and to promote one or two elements at the expense of others is short-sighted and detrimental to the overall good of the community. Including the Community Foundation, Chamber of Commerce, Young Professionals and other civic minded bodies in fostering a positive atmosphere, tackling challenges in a proactive manner and engaging the community as a whole are steps to promote and continue the balanced approach.

The Journal did not receive responses to its survey from Hutchinson City Council, Southeast District, candidate Steven Garza.

Hutchinson City Council, At-Large

Sara Bagwell, candidate for Hutchinson City Council, At-Large

Please provide a brief introduction and a description of why you are running for office.

I have a wonderful husband and 3 children. I graduated with my Masters in Accounting in August of 2018 from Emporia State University. I have about 5 years accounting work experience and 6 years schooling. I think my accounting background gives me skill set that could be beneficial for a sitting council women. I love Hutchinson and the great state of Kansas. I want to be a part of helping drive our city into a prosperous and financially strong city with many opportunities for future generations.

Should you be elected, what is the single most important issue that you would like to see improvement on during your term in office? Please write a few sentences explaining your choice.

Economic development, drug rehabilitation, and mental health. Putting a focus on these three issues will help build stability, a stronger workforce, and increase revenues.

As an office holder, how would you try to mobilize efforts to address the important issue you identified above? If you have a sense of specific steps you might take, please share those.

Working with the county commission to create a strategy and increase funding directly to portfolio strategies of current city assets to infill building and work hard on an economic campaign to drive business to the city. As well as promote local entrepreneurs. To help drug rehabilitation the city can bringing awareness and exposure to local Oxford houses and New Beginning efforts that help people get off drugs, back on their feet, to work, and self sufficient. This improves communities and creates a larger available workforce. I would work with those groups to help build a relationship with the city and possibly work on a proclamation for a city recovery and appreciation day.

The new police chief in Hutchinson has a lot of good ideas on how we can save on expenses by helping those with mental health instead of taking people to jail when they do break the law by being more proactive then reactive. I would work with the new police chief and other agency. I would be supportive of the efforts already awaiting to be implemented.

The Journal did not receive responses to its survey from Hutchinson City Council, At-Large, candidate David Inskeep.