by Cindy McMahon, Reynolds District Representative, Buncombe County School Board
Have you noticed? It’s an election year! While we are all bombarded by the national election news, our critical local elections can get lost in the fray. But local elections are vitally important and as your School Board representative, I strongly urge you to learn about the candidates, get out and vote, and remember to turn the ballot over and vote in all races.
In Buncombe County, the Board of Education is a nonpartisan election. Candidates must live in the district they hope to represent, but each is elected in a county-wide, at-large race. This means that although you live in the Reynolds district (and my seat is not on the ballot this time), you will still vote for one candidate in each of the four different school board races: North Buncombe, TC Roberson, Owen, and the at-large seat.
Ann Franklin, chair of the Board of Education and North Buncombe Representative, is running unopposed for reelection.
I asked the candidates in each of the three contested races to describe what sets them apart from the others in their race. Here is what they told me:
TC ROBERSON DISTRICT SEAT
Amy Churchill (incumbent): “It has been an honor to serve Buncombe County students, parents, educators and communities as the Roberson District representative since 2012. I also serve on the Board of the NC School Board Association and have been endorsed by the Buncombe County Association of Educators. Thank you for allowing me to be a champion for our students and staff, and an advocate for our school system.”
Laura Bowen::“I am very familiar with the schools in Buncombe County because I’ve worked as a substitute teacher in 27 different schools, and have had six children graduate from T.C. Roberson and currently have two grandchildren attending schools in the Roberson School District. I spent 14 years working with construction budgets and contractors, and appreciate the need for prudent use of financial resources.”
OWEN DISTRICT SEAT
Peggy Buchanan: “I have lived in the Black Mountain/Swannanoa valley for 37 years; my four children and now grandchildren have all received their education in the Owen schools. I am a strong supporter of public schools and increased support for our teachers and administrators.”
Bob Chilmonik: “My experience as a public school teacher, two-term elected school board member, and former corporate executive will enable me to assist the board in developing district policies to increase academic achievement for all children. I will also tirelessly lobby the state to increase classroom funding and to enable us to improve working conditions of our hard-working teachers and support personnel.”
Mark Crawford: “A graduate of West Point, veteran of the Gulf War and a former North Carolina legislator, Mark Crawford taught for parts or all of 13 academic years in Buncombe County as a full-time substitute teacher at the primary, elementary, middle school and high school levels, including in every school in the Reynolds district but two. Since 2005, Crawford has been an instructor at Western Carolina University.”
Matt Kern:: “I have 20 years of community service, management experience, political experience and the educational background to be successful on the Buncombe County School Board. Besides managing the superintendent I would continue to support supplemental pay and affordable housing for teachers, an increase in funding for mental health services for children and their families, and form partnerships with local business to help provide school supplies for the classrooms.”
Donna Pate: “What distinguishes me as a candidate is actual ‘in the trenches’ experience. I have served as both a high school English teacher and school counselor for over 30 years, garnering insights into the needs of our stakeholders, which my worthy opponents may not have. As a retiree, I also have the time, energy, and commitment to make myself a visible presence in each of our 44 schools on a monthly basis so I can team with the respective district school board members to address specific concerns.”
Amy Wamsley: “Over the last several years, I have been advocating for our schools in both private and public settings by planning and moderating a host of town hall meetings in which I have shared how legislation affects our local schools in both positive and negative ways. I have had hours of meetings with both local and state elected officials and have invaluable relationships built due to my belief in respect and civil discourse. Lastly, I bring the passion and perspective of a mother. I have spent countless hours volunteering in our schools and have seen firsthand the needs of the classroom, students, educators and parents.”
No matter your party or political bent, what matters most is that we all honor our country and community by taking the opportunity to vote in all races during early voting (October 27–November 5) or on November 8. Be sure you vote for the Board of Education!
Questions for Cindy? Please email email@example.com.