Forum focuses on school board candidates


Tallahassee residents gathered at the Leon County Courthouse on Thursday to meet the candidates running for school board.

 Residents and concerned parents were given the opportunity to talk to the candidates face to face after the candidates shared their views and explained why they should win the election. 

A total of six questions were asked to each candidate and each was given 90 seconds to respond.  The questions gave the candidates the opportunity to speak on an array of issues I such as bullying, student safety, racial disparity and mental health. 

 Ricky Bell and Patty Bell, who are trying to unseat incumbent Alva Striplin in District 1, were first to respond.  Each discussed their experiences in the Leon County school system and their ideas on how to resolve recurring issues. 

The District 3 candidates — incumbent  Maggie Lewis-Butler, Darryl Jones, Charles Williams and Lynn Jones — were  given the same questions.  They passionately discussed their focal points.  Donna Hayes-Austin did not attend the forum. 

Finally, District 5 candidates Georgia “Joy” Bowen and Marcus Nicolas were given the opportunity to answer the same questions.

Between each district discussion was a five-minute break that allowed audience members to talk to the candidates and ask them questions about what was explained. 

Many parents were curious about how these candidates plan to help their children.  Marie-Claire Leman, a 45-year-old stay-at-home mother of three, says she was interested in what the candidates had to say about the equity of the schools on the north and south sides of Tallahassee.

“I’m very interested, as a parent of students in Leon County, in the direction that our school district is taking in terms of ensuring equity between our schools and not have a south side that gets less than a north side.  That’s one of the big issues for me,” Leman said. 

Other residents, like 60-year-old Cassandra Jenkins, wanted to weigh their options and see who she should vote for. 

“I just really wanted to hear what the candidates had to say.  I want to hear more about how they saw the issues, what their possible responses and solutions are for the issues and then make sure that I’m hearing the information right so that I can make an informed decision when I go to vote,” said Jenkins.

Residents will be able to vote for their school board district candidate on Aug. 28.