Six candidates are vying for two seats from District 2 on the North Adams Community Schools’ board of education in the first-ever public elections for board seats.
The top vote-getter in the District 2 voting will receive a four-year term that will start Jan. 1, 2013. If an incumbent board member is the top vote-getter, that person will automatically earn a new term on the board, effective Jan. 1, 2013. Their vacated seat would then be filled by a vote of the school board.
The second-place vote-getters in each district, if not appointed to fill a board vacancy, would take office on July 1, 2014, during the phase-in period between appointed and elected positions.
The North Adams school board will expand from its current five-member makeup to a seven-member board beginning January 1, 2013.
The candidates are:
Mark Bulmahn resides at 8630 N. 400 W. He is the president of Masters Heating and Cooling. He is making his first run at elected office.
Debra Bergman resides at 7685 N 250 W. She lists her occupation as senior group leader. Bergman has held a seat on the North Adams school board since her appointment in June of 2011 by township trustees in the rural portions of the school district.
Cassie Hammond resides at 170 W. Honeysuckle Lane, Decatur. She is employed as a deputy clerk in the Adams County Clerk of Court’s office. She is making her first attempt at public office in 18 years, after losing a race for the city clerk’s position.
David Smith resides at 6494 E. U.S. 224, Decatur. He is employed in sales and marketing at North Central Co-op in Wabash. He is making his first attempt at elected public office. Smith and his wife Tammy have one child who has graduated from Bellmont High School and two who are enrolled in North Adams schoos.
Daniel Strickler, 1833 W 500 N, Decatur, is making his first attempt at political office. He is a work release supervisor.
James Voglewede resides at 2711 E 600 N, Decatur. He is the first deputy recorder of Adams County and is minister of the North Adams Church of Christ in Decatur. Voglewede was a candidate in the May primary for the recorder’s office.
Each candidate received a list of questions. Their answers follow:
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Q. What is your main reason for seeking this office?
BERGMAN: To assure North Adams Community Schools provides the highest quality public education for all children.
HAMMOND: To be involved in the community. Our kids’ education should be one of our top priorities.
SMITH: The community needs a strong voice on the school board that will convey what our needs and expectations are as parents of North Adams students. North Adams is going to continue to have to make some difficult decisions in the coming year on budget and expenditure decisions that will affect our students, teachers and taxpayers and I am not convinced that the community’s best interest has been represented in the past.
STRICKLER: To keep the public informed with complete and truthful account of board meetings. To let the public speak at any meeting on matters of North Adams schools.
VOGELWEDE: I want to use my work experience and education to help improve the North Adams School system.
BULMAHN: To provide a quality education while watching out for the taxpayer burden.
Q. List your top two priorities if elected (re-elected)
BERGMAN: (1) To be fiscally responsible with taxpayer money.
(2) As the future of education changes, the methods, technology and facilities will change. As these changes are implemented, the student, family, teacher and administratior impact must be kept in mind, minimized and communicated.
HAMMOND: (1) To have a voice in making our schools the best they can be. (2). Working with others to achieve it.
SMITH: (1) Addressing the increasing education budget cuts to North Adams and getting the best services and opportunities for our students and teachers. (2) Make sure that the teachers have the proper tools in place to have North Adams students excel in scholastic achievement and community involvement activities that will prepare them for their future success at the college level or being ready to enter today’s work force.
STRICKLER: (1) To have or try to have parents more involved with students’ progress, my going to teacher’s meetings with their student. (2) To help teachers with their suggestions and needs in teaching students.
VOGELWEDE: To make sure every student receives the best opportunity to fulfill their educational potential. To be fiscally responsible for every tax dollar spent.
BULMAHN: Making sure we have qualified personnel working in our school system, and the modern teaching systems. Making sure we are fiscally responsible to the taxpayer.
Q. What do you see as the primary role of a school board member?
BERGMAN: To ensure the school board policies are current, relevant and followed.
HAMMOND: To figure out what would improve our schools and find a way to reach those goals.
SMITH: The primary responsibility is to hire and advise the superintendent on matters that come before the board. That may include adopting school policies and making decisions on the budget and expenditures within the North Adams School System. The board needs to be a liaison between the administration procedures and the community. They will have to handle issues that are brought before the board and other issues that are brought to individual board members.
STRICKLER: To help teachers and parents provide the best education for every student.
VOGELWEDE: To represent the community views of the public concerning the education and achievement of all the students in the North Adams School District.
BULMAHN: To oversee the fiscal part of operating the school system and oversee the hiring of the right people to educate our children.