I don’t usually address politics on my blog, but decided to write about each candidate running for the open seat on the Kansas City MO school board: Gunnar Hand and Stephen Himes. Full disclosure up front–I know Gunnar as I serve with him on the Armour Hills Homes Assn board, and Stephen Himes teaches at St Teresa’s Academy, where my daughter attends school. I am not endorsing one candidate over the other. My approach to this blog was to ask each candidate the same four questions, and write the answers as spoken.
A short background regarding this election: When former board member Derrick Ritchie moved to Nashville, a special election was needed to fill his position. The term of this new board member will end in 2014. There are nine members of the Kansas City School Board, and this seat represents the 2cd subdistrict. The rough boundaries are Troost, 85th St, State Line Rd and Brush Creek. It is not a paid position. Two days ago I published the interview with Stephen, today’s post is about Gunnar.
Gunnar Hand grew up in Kansas City, attending parochial schools. He lives in Armour Hills and has his own design/consulting firm, MOCK Studio. His wife Ashley is the chair of Friends of Hale Cook, a local organization dedicating to reopening Hale Cook Elementary. You can read more about Gunnar’s background here. This interview took place on Oct 24, 2012.
Why did you decide to run for this seat?
My wife and I are dedicated to sending our daughter, Genevieve, to public schools. We want to be engaged in her success and the success of the school district. By serving on the board, it will be my responsibility to engage the entire community in our public schools, effectively communicate the district’s success, and educate the public about the capabilities and needs of the district.
What three things do you want to accomplish if elected?
1) Open Hale Cook Elementary School in fall 2013.
2) Rewrite the school board’s ‘policy document’ so that it directly addresses the realities and bureaucracy of the school district. This document needs to build in accountability for the Administration and set the expectations of the Board by setting more clearly defined goals and developing an implementation plan. In order to track the progress of the Administration to reach the Board’s stated goals, we must delineate milestones in order to measure our success.
3) I want to leverage the faith based community to build community partnerships in our local schools. Currently, there are many churches involved with Southwest Early College Campus, Border Star Montessori and Hartman Elementary–members provide meals, mentoring, etc. The civic and business leaders of these churches need to partner with individual schools to fill in the gaps. We need a organized, empowered and effective volunteer program. For example, a local running club could revitalize the track at Southwest, which is virtually unusable in its current condition, so that students and local runners could use it. This ties the school and local community together through coaching opportunities, track meets, local use of school facilities, fund raisers and other events.
What do you feel is the biggest challenge you face if elected?
The biggest challenge is to get the district reaccredited and fending off the state takeover.
What are the differences between you and your opponent?
First, it’s great that we have a contested election for this position with two qualified candidates. It comes down to personality and approach. My approach is inclusive, from the ground up, and seeks to engage the entire community in the success of the district. I have a proven track record of organizing diverse communities, implementing action plans and working on and with boards, committees and commissions.
Learn more about Gunnar and his endorsements at www.gunnarhand.com. Please vote on Tuesday!