Candidate Huey quoted in 2/28/08 Rhino Times

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. From this week’s Rhino Times:

Three School Board Seats Up For Grabs
by Paul Clark
Staff Writer

It’s too early to predict the outcome of the election, but it is a certainty that there will be at least three new faces on the school board.

High Point resident Michael McKinney filed on Monday, Feb. 25 as a candidate for the at-large seat now held by Dot Kearns, who on that same day announced that she will not run for reelection.

McKinney will go up against David Crawford and Erik Huey. Crawford filed last year to run for the Greensboro City Council but dropped out of that race, announcing his intention to run for 6th District Congressman Howard Coble’s seat. And Huey, who had been wavering between running for the at-large or the District 5 seat, said he will file to run at large on Friday, Feb. 29. Kearns’ exit, and the filing of candidate Paul Daniels, decided the issue, Huey said.

The entry of McKinney and Huey raises the number of at-large candidates to three, which will result in that race being placed on the May 6 primary ballot. The two top vote-getters in the primary will compete in the general election Nov. 4.

As expected, school board member Walter Childs this week announced that he does not plan to run for reelection in District 1. Childs endorsed J. Carlvena Foster, executive director of the Carl Chavis Memorial Branch YMCA in High Point, who filed for the seat on Feb. 18.

Greensboro attorney Paul Daniels filed on Feb. 22 to run for the District 5 seat now held by school board member Anita Sharpe, who is not running for reelection.

Oak Ridge resident Mike Stone, a manager at Pactiv Corp., filed on Feb. 18 to run for the District 3 seat now held by school board member Darlene Garrett, who filed to run for reelection the same day.

District 7 school board member Kris Cooke on Feb. 11 filed to run for reelection, and District 9 school board member Amos Quick said he would file to run for reelection by week’s end.

Kearns, a long-time fixture in the county’s political landscape, said the time was right for her to step down. Kearns, 76, was elected to the old High Point school board in 1972 and the Guilford County Board of County Commissioners in 1982.

“Over the last weeks I have been in conversation with several potential candidates whom I find to hold similar beliefs about the imperative power of public education in a democracy and who hold similar hopes for building a strong effective Guilford County School System as I hold,” Kearns said in a press release. “With that knowledge, I am comfortable to leave the at-large seat in new and vigorous hands.”

Violence in the schools, the management of school construction projects and a more open school administration are shaping up as key issues in the race, candidates said this week.

McKinney, a vice president and community lender for Southern Community Bank and Trust whose daughter attends Southwest Elementary School, said safety in the schools and academic rigor are two of the focuses of his campaign.

McKinney said he had not yet decided his position on many issues but that safety is a big issue.

“I worry every day about my 9-year-old daughter, and I know other parents do, too,” McKinney said.

The idea of school uniforms is appealing, McKinney said.

“When you have kids together on that level, not competing on clothes or shoes, that makes the environment more conducive to academic focus,” McKinney said.

Garrett, who now holds the District 3 seat, said principals and teachers need to have input on decisions, rather than having decisions forced on them. She said the main issue in District 3, as in the county, is school funding, “because we need more funding.”

Garrett, who voted for the school bonds despite doubts about their size, said there is support for them in District 3. “But there is some skepticism,” she said. “It’s not going to be an easy sell. It’s a really high bond.”

The school board needs to look closely at discipline in the schools, and will be helped by the Monday, Feb. 25 report of the School Climate Task Force, Garrett said.

The exit of School Superintendent Terry Grier is a big opportunity for the school board to make changes, Garrett said.

Foster, who has degrees from Shaw University and High Point University, said safety issues are creating havoc in schools. The school board needs to enforce discipline and to more closely monitor who comes into schools, she said.

Foster proposes a “safe schools report card” that would grade individual schools on discipline and behavior issues. The schools also need to involve parents more, she said.

“Parents need to take some responsibility,” Foster said. “You can’t enforce discipline at school if it’s not enforced at home.”

Stone, who ran for school board in 2000, also in District 3, said things have gotten worse since his last race.

“In 2000, the big issue was bullying,” Stone said. “Last year, it transitioned more into gangs. It sounds like it ratcheted up a notch.”

Principals have to make judgment calls about what disciplinary incidents to report, which shouldn’t be the case, Stone said.

“You can’t fix it if you don’t know how big the problem is,” Stone said. “Right now, we’re not tracking the problem.”

The schools should reach out to gang leaders to get them to make schools a truce zone, Stone said.

Stone attacked the current board’s management of construction projects, which he said could be better handled by the private sector. He said he was leaning against supporting the $412 million in school construction bonds.

Guilford County Schools is not equipped to spend money as fast as it is raising it, Stone said. The schools should raise money in smaller increments, prove they can manage it well, and then ask for more, he said.

The $500 million in bonds approved by voters since 2000 have not bought enough, Stone said. “Does anybody really see a half billion dollars worth of schools?” he asked.

The current school board has identified too strongly with the administration of Grier, Stone said.

“The school board has circled the wagons with the administration and said, ‘It knows best,'” Stone said. “There are some smart people in the administration, but you need new ideas from the citizens.”

Daniels, running for the District 5 seat, is an attorney at Teague, Rotenstreich, Stanaland, Fox & Holt, LLP in Greensboro and a US Army veteran who has children attending Alamance Elementary School and Southeast Guilford High School.

Daniels said, the school board has lost touch with its customers, the parents, has let violence spiral out of control and is building schools “willy-nilly” without a coherent plan.

His children have witnessed fights in schools, one of which resulted in the school being closed for a day, Daniels said. “There is violence in these schools,” he said.

Daniels accused the schools of “under-representing crime” and said he disagreed with school board Chairman Alan Duncan’s assessment that no principals would risk their careers by not reporting crimes.

“I would say the opposite is true,” Daniels said. “Reporting crime can also ruin your career.”

Daniels said many District 5 residents are justifiably upset that the proposed middle school in Jamestown was not built after cost overruns on projects built with the 2003 school bonds.

Voters who approved the bonds “got taken for a ride,” Daniels said. The schools should have top-notch construction planning done by professionals, instead of haphazardly approving new features such as toilets that flush with rainwater, he said.

“Are we going to build Taj Mahal schools with the latest green gadgets, or are we going to be good stewards of the taxpayers’ money?” Daniels asked.

Daniels said he was angriest about the recent Guilford County Schools redistricting plan, which he described as “social engineering” and “one of the most egregious examples of, ‘We don’t care what the people think’ that I’ve seen.'”

The school board held hearings on four redistricting plans, then pulled a fast one, Daniels said.

“When it came to a vote, they pulled out Plan E, which no one hard heard of but the school board,” Daniels said. “That was a gross violation of the public trust.”

Huey, running at-large, said Daniels is “a level-headed guy” who is for fiscal conservatism and against the construction bonds.

“That’s two thumbs up, in my opinion,” Huey said. I will not run against him.”

Huey said his strategy is to build a voting bloc of more conservative school board members, including Daniels, Garrett and Garth Hebert.

If that happens, “we can actually get some things done,” he said.

Huey has scheduled a press conference on his filing for Friday, Feb. 29, at the old Guilford County Court on Market Street.

Huey praised Kearns for her long service to the county but said it was a good time for her to step down.

“I think she’s made the right decision to let a younger generation take the reins and make the decisions for the children of Guilford County,” Huey said.


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E.C. )


The play-by-play as I filed today…

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Thanks to the N&R’s Doug Clark via his blog, here’s a play-by-play on the final minutes of the ballot filing period:

Just hangin’ out at the elections office before the filing deadline

Entering the old Guilford County Courthouse about 11:45 today, the first thing I notice is there’s no line of candidates leading to the elections board office.No, say the very friendly women working behind the desk. It’s been quiet.

The last-day filers are few:

* Olga Morgan Wright, challenging Alma Adams in state House District 58 (again).

* Greg Woodard, running against Skip Alston in County Commissioner District 8 (that’s interesting). Woodard and Alston are both Democrats, so they’re heading for a primary contest in May.

* Alan Hawkes, for the at-large school board seat.

A couple of people are hanging around, somewhat anxiously. It turns out they’re Paul Daniels and Linda Welborn. Daniels filed last week for the District 5 school board seat that Anita Sharpe holds currently, and he’s waiting to see if anyone else will jump into that race. Welborn, an advocate for Southeast Guilford, supports Daniels and says she would have run if he didn’t.

County Commissioner Paul Gibson drops by and threatens to have me evicted for loitering. I ask him if he’s come to withdraw his candidacy for re-election. They won’t refund his filing fee, he says. I think he’s just making sure he and fellow Democratic incumbent John Parks aren’t going to have a primary. Indeed, they won’t: They’re the only two Dems in the race for two seats.

As noon approaches, the final candidate finally appears. Ironically, it’s the guy who was the very first to announce his candidacy: Erik “E.C.” Huey. It seems like he’s been running for almost two years now, and he was brushing the deadline. He becomes the fifth candidate to enter the nonpartisan at-large school board race, so there will be a primary in May to whittle that to the top two.

Huey is a former newspaper reporter (he and I worked together at the High Point Enterprise) and teacher. Despite his almost last-minute appearance, he’s very organized. He even has a press release and written statement.

Interestingly, he announces “the mutual support from GCS Board member Darlene Garrett and GCS Board candidate Paul Daniels.” They represent a potential “voting bloc” on the board, Huey adds.

He and Daniels praise each other and launch into a discussion of school issues, joined by Welborn and state Rep. John Blust, who popped in to find out if anyone filed to run against him (no). Blust will engage anyone in conversation on any subject for as long as they want to talk.

Also passing by is Alston. Stuck in the aforementioned gabathon about schools, I miss his reaction when he finds out about Woodard. I can say he doesn’t look panic-stricken. Woodard isn’t likely to scare Alston much, but he was a hardworking, credible candidate in the District 1 City Council race last year, and he will make a lot better opponent than no one.

I wish I could report on more action at the courthouse today. We’ll have to hope for exciting happenings on the campaign trail.


BTW, the folks down at the Board of Elections were the absolute best and very helpful and friendly. Kudos to you all.

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E.C. )

I’m in…

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From the up-to-date election filings over at the Guilford Co. Board of Elections…

Jamestown resident Erik “E.C.” Huey today filed as a candidate for the GCS Board at-large seat. Huey, who publicly announced his intentions almost two years ago, will face four other candidates in a May 6 primary. Huey has widespread support among both teachers and parents, along with local advocates for public education.





Almost two years ago, I stood at a spot not far from here, and publicly declared my intentions to run for the at-large seat on the Guilford County Board of Education. Almost two months ago, I returned to that spot to reaffirm my candidacy.

Well, what a difference makes with the passage of time.

Now that the February filing period has drawn to a close, we have now passed another milestone in this grass-roots effort to take back our schools.

Today, I am here to announce my official entry in the race for the Guilford County Board of Education where I am seeking the at-large seat to be vacated by outgoing Board member Dot Kearns.

And while I wish Mrs. Kearns the best in her difficult decision to retire from public service, coupled with the current superintendent search, 2008 will provide a golden opportunity for Guilford County Schools.

In December of 2006 when I originally announced my intentions to run for this seat, I challenged the status quo running Guilford County Schools to stop busing our children, to stop the wasteful spending of taxpayer money, to be smarter with regards to school construction, to do something about student achievement before Judge Howard Manning yanks our schools away from us, to get serious about cracking down on school violence and lack of discipline in our schools and classrooms, and to get serious on granting real whistleblowing protection for teachers and staff who wish to voice work-related complaints in their schools.

Unfortunately, our schools are worse off today than they were in 2006. Since the beginning of this school year, we’ve had several well-publicized incidents which have resulted in arrests. The recent GCS School Climate Task Force final report uncovered the many lapses we have in our schools with regard to safety and security.

When school board members openly questioned why a new proposed high school should cost nearly $88 million to build, they received a rather cold and condescending reception by GCS administrative staff.

With a nearly half-a-billion-dollar school bond referendum looming, it will ultimately yield more debt, which is already spiraling out of control. Race-baiting continues to be alive and well on our school board. Real whistleblowing protection for employees continues to be lacking, and as we’ve seen, teachers are administratively thrown under the bus if they blow the whistle and voice a complaint in their schools. And now principals are allegedly threatened if they report too many safety incidents in our schools or suspend too many students.

Some on our school board continue to push busing our students to schools across town instead of advocating for neighborhood schools. Cultural arts programs in our schools continue to be scaled back in favor of teaching our children how to pass a two hour test.

A lot has happened with respect to this campaign. Today, I’m proud to announce that my campaign site and blog has logged more than 33,000 visitors. My blog has become one of the fastest growing political and education blogs among Guilford County’s blogging community. My blog was recognized last year by the Raleigh-based John Locke Foundation for being a “must-read” for information on public education in Guilford County.

I declared in 2006 that it is time for a change in our schools. And since then, many have answered that call and have joined my campaign.

I’m proud to announce that many teachers from various schools across the county have voiced their support for this campaign. I’ve been meeting with teachers countywide on a regular basis since this campaign began, and I expect that to continue right into Election Day.

We’ve already picked up support from various families of GCS Advanced Learning and Very Strong Needs students. I have begun working closely with SAVE GCS ARTS, which is advocating for the immediate restoration of music and art instructional time in our elementary and middle schools and the reinstatement of the GCS cultural arts coordinator position.

I’m also proud to announce the mutual support from GCS Board member Darlene Garrett and GCS Board candidate Paul Daniels.

In addition, many among Guilford County’s blogging community have publicly announced their support for this campaign.

With many challengers in the primary race alone, this election is critical. We cannot rest and we do not have the luxury of time to waste. Our children are at stake. Our children are our future. Until these aforementioned issues are dealt with, GCS will continue to fail our children.

I’m here to tell our county’s public school children, all 71,000 of them, that help is on the way. I’m here to tell the 10,000 employees of Guilford County Schools…that help is on the way. I’m here today to tell the citizens, taxpayers, business owners, community leaders, and others who care deeply about public education in Guilford County, that help is on the way.

This is a real grass-roots movement and the task ahead of us is great. Our only interests are those children…our children. For our children are indeed our future.

Please join me so we can take back this at-large seat and return it properly to the people of this county. Join us so that we can have a renewed spirit of cooperation and focus, so that our schools will get back to the business of educating our children and educating our future.

Thank you. God bless you. And May God continue to bless the children of Guilford County.

E.C. )

Now it’s a five-person race

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From the up-to-date election filings over at the Guilford Co. Board of Elections…

Greensboro resident Alan Hawkes filed this morning for the at-large GCS Board race. Hawkes is a former member of the Guilford County Planning Board and a former County Commissioner candidate who at one time challenged former commissioner Bob Landreth. Hawkes currently is listed as a sitting member of the NC Charter School Advisory Committee.

Don’t forget that I’m announcing my filing this morning at 11:45am (about two hours from now) in front of the Old County Court House. All of my supporters and well-wishers and curious onlookers are welcome to attend, as well as interested press.

E.C. )

Board hears from search firms

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. In a special called meeting last night which was not televised (big mistake), the GCS Board heard from search firms that may be charged with helping to find our next superintendent.

Coverage from today’s High Point Enterprise:

 The school board is con­sidering hiring a search firm to find his replace­ment and to lead the third largest school system in the state. Because of the de­mographics of the district, one firm said board mem­bers would need to focus on a slate of multi-ethnic, multi-gendered candidates. Another said strong lead­ership and interpersonal skills are needed to carry the district to the next lev­el. A business savvy leader and someone with public relations skills are also im­portant characteristics for Guilford, representatives said.
“The best superinten­dent in the world may be the worst superintendent for Guilford,” said Bill At­tea of Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates. “You need a superintendent that will address the needs you have and that can work with the stakeholders in Guilford County,” Attea added.


E.C. )

The at-large race is one to watch (N&R)

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. According to Morgan at the N&R Chalkboard, the at-large race is the one to watch. See what she says:

School board races to watch

It looks like the Board of Education races to watch this year will be in District 3 and the at-large seat Dot Kearns is vacating.

Mike Stone has returned to once again face Darlene Garrett in a bid for representation in the northwest part of the district. Stone, an Oak Ridge resident and unit manager for Pactiv Corp. in Greensboro, said he is dissatisfied with Garrett’s leadership and the fact that some of the issues that they both campaigned about in 2000 (lack of school safety, transparency and financial accountability) still exist.

“It’s eight years later and we have the same issues,” Stone told me today. “And why is that? We have some of the same board members.”

It looks like four people will be running for the at-large seat, including Sandra Alexandra, who filed today. I haven’t spoken to her yet.

Who has the edge? Erik Huey so far has the publicity, having announced his intentions to run back in November 2006. He also has a blog that covers local educational issues.

But Michael McKinney, a commercial banker for Southern Community Bank & Trust, might have more business and community connections. He serves on the Guilford County planning board and executive board of TRIBEC (Triad Real Estate & Building Industry Coalition). He was also a former board member with the United Way of Greensboro and fundraiser for Bennett College.

David Crawford has some exposure from running against Mike Barber for Greensboro city council last year. So the at-large race should be particularly interesting.

Who do you think has the best chance of winning?


So Mr. McKinney is a banker and has ties to developers…I can’t wait to see what my friend Billy Jones has to say about this!

E.C. )

A four-person race

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From the up-to-date election filings over at the Guilford Co. Board of Elections…

Greensboro resident Sandra Alexandra filed today for the GCS Board at-large race. With me filing tomorrow morning, it now sets up a four person race going into the May primary (Alexandra, Huey, Crawford and McKinney), with the top-two going to November.

Don’t forget the press conference I’m having tomorrow morning at 11:45am in front of the old county Court House on W. Market Street. All are invited.

E.C. )