Stafford hosts separate candidate forums for SMSD and City Council

By Karen Daniels 

To provide information to the community about the candidates running for local office, the City of Stafford held two different candidate forums last Wednesday, April; 24, at the Stafford Civic Center. The first hour featured 4 of the 5 candidates running for SMSD Board of Trustees. Mike Guerra was unable to attend because of illness. (Opening and closing statements were read by moderator, Stewart Jacobson.)  Two positions are up for re-election, but only one incumbent is running, so one new board member is guaranteed.

SMSD Board of Trustees candidates;  Christopher Caldwell: Excels at public speaking and debate. Currently earning his doctoral in education administration. 25 year educator. Has lived in Stafford for 17 years. Wants to increase “student success rate.” Three foundational cores are continuing education, effective teacher support and community and parent involvement. In closing, he has experience in the educational process of teaching, administration, policy, and curriculum. “Wants the bar set high.”

Mike Guerra: Has lived in Stafford for 27 years. Was a prior Trustee 2002-2009; prior SSABC President from 2000-2002; currently on the Education Foundation Committee. Served on two bond committees. His prepared closing speech began with accusations aimed at the current board. “It’s all about board and superintendant relationships, not personal agendas or gain” and said “it would be an honor to sit, adopt and enforce policy with the new superintendent.”

Xavier Herrera: Has 3 children attending Stafford schools. Wants SMSD to “Continue to ensure a positive effect for family and community” and says he’s “uniquely qualified to navigate through complex relations between our school district, state and federal government.” In closing, he pledged to be a strong proponent of “thoughtful academic reforms that will move us toward a 21st century curriculum and focus on helping our students succeed in a 21st century economy.”

Lisa Thompson: Is a 20 year Stafford resident. Her 3 kids have attended Kindergarten through 12th grade; the last one graduating this year. SSABC President from 2007-2013. She wants to “give back and continue to volunteer” and be a “bridge between the Board and the parents in the community.” In closing, she wants to “work as a team and keep the focus on educational issues.”

Rodney Butler: Is the incumbent. He has “experience and is dedicated” and says “all my commitments are to the children.” He seemed uneasy under the bright lights, and forgot to mention that he has served on the Board since 2008/09 and has lived in Stafford for over 20 years. In closing, he wants to provide a safe, happy, environment, and his only “special interest is what’s best for the children of Stafford.”

Stafford City Council

The second portion of the candidate forum was for the vacated City Council seat of Felecia Evans-Smith. Of the two running, only Author “A.J.” Honore, was able to attend. Virginia Rosas had “pressing family obligations” and could not participate. During the Q & A section, A.J. Honore successfully handled the rapid fire questions from the panel for over twenty minutes.

A.J. Honore: Stafford resident for 28 years. Volunteered on numerous committees such as: City of Stafford Charter Review Commission; Board of Zoning Adjustments; SMSD Facilities Task Force; and many youth organizations. “As a former Vice-President of Chase Bank, and having worked with over 5 billion dollars of economic development revenue bonds to promote different types of projects, I think there’s a lot I can bring to the table to help the City of Stafford as we look 25 years into the future” and wants to “see the formation of a Stafford Youth Commission.”

Virginia Roses: Stafford resident for 32 years. Current SMSD Trustee and Planning & Zoning Committee member. “I am committed to maintaining the zero property tax, to keep Stafford a safe place to live and work, be responsive to community concerns, help create in the future of Stafford, a walkable community, assist in neighborhood beautification efforts and continue to create partnerships for the City and School District.”

If Virginia Rosas is elected to Stafford City Council she will not have to resign her SMSM Trustee seat until she is officially sworn in to Council. From there, the school board has 180 days in which to fill that vacated seat either by appointment or special election.

Early voting has begun and Saturday, May 10 is the General Election.

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