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Paradise City Council & School Board Candidates

By Messenger Staff | Published Saturday, October 21, 2017
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City council and school board elections in Paradise are on the ballot Tuesday, Nov. 7.

The Messenger sent candidates in contested races the following questionnaires and asked that answers be limited to 50 words. If candidates surpassed 50 words, everything following the end of the sentence that reached the 50-word count has been omitted.

PARADISE CITY COUNCIL

City council candidates were asked to address the following:

1. Rank the following issues in terms of importance and emphasis for your city: taxes, streets, water and sewer, parks and recreation, fees (water, sewer and garbage), economic development, law enforcement, attract new residents and housing developments.

2. Which statement best describes your primary reason for seeking a place on the city council?

a. correct administrative or financial problems that exist within the city

b. change current direction and policies of city

c. continue current direction and policies of city`

d. increase local funding for city programs, including streets, law enforcement, parks

e. maintain or lower local funding for city programs, including streets, law enforcement, parks

f. support bond election to improve city issues as needed, including streets, law enforcement, parks

g. oppose tax increases required to improve city facilities, including streets, parks, etc.

PLACE 4

ROBERT OWENSBY

Occupation: Retired USCG minister

Education: Bachelor’s degree

Family: Wife Connie

1. Taxes

2. Owensby did not submit an answer for question No. 2.

Owensby is running against Chris Harris. Harris did not return the questionnaire.

PLACE 5

JOHN WARD

Occupation: Educator

Education: Bachelor’s in management, master’s in information technology

Family: Wife Terre, sons John and Kyle and daughter Billie Rae

1. Taxes, fees (water, sewer, garbage), economic development, parks and recreation, streets, law enforcement

2. Change current direction and policies of city.

Ward is running against Michael Robertson. Robertson did not return the questionnaire.

Roy Steel is running for mayor, Amanda Black for Place 1 and Sandy Onks for Place 3. All are uncontested.

PARADISE SCHOOL BOARD

1. Rank these issues by importance and emphasis: academics, athletics, band and fine arts, facilities, technology, transportation, vocational programs.

2. Rank these groups as a resource for information in making decisions: administration, parents and teachers, taxpayers, fellow school board members.

3. Primary reason for seeking a place on the school board: continue the direction and policies of the district, change the direction and policies of the district, lower the tax rate.

4. What are you looking for in the new superintendent?

PLACE 3

KEVIN HOWERTON (INCUMBENT)

Occupation: Firefighter

Education: Some college

Family: Wife Celina, daughters Ally, Rylee and Kaycie

1. Academics, athletics, fine arts, technology, vocational programs, transportation, facilities

No. 1 – Teachers and staff. Big buildings and new buses are nice when you look from the outside in. Look at our students, their manners and test scores (inside out) – that is the definition of our teachers and staff. I believe it takes all the programs to allow a child to grow.

2. It takes all five of your groups to make a school. To be successful, find common ground and listen twice as much as you talk.

3. Howerton did not answer No. 3.

4. Howerton did not answer No. 4.

HEATH SMITH

Heath Smith

Occupation: General and bariatric surgeon

Education: Paradise High School 2001, undergraduate Texas A&M University 2005, medical school Texas A&M 2009, post-graduate Virginia Tech-Carilion 2015

Family: Wife Andrea, children Colin, Wyatt and Noah

1. A strong academic program that is engaging for students will provide the foundation for their future. All other programs are equally important to supplement the individual interests of our students and strengthen them as they transition into their lives when their formal education is complete.

2. Information on making decisions should be based on a collaboration of input from all members of the district. The ability of the superintendent with the assistance of the board to process this information to make the best decision for the district is what will make the district successful.

3. I love my hometown. I love helping people. I love that I can work here and enjoy the opportunity to raise my family in the same place that made me the person I am today. I feel that being on the board is the best opportunity for me to help set up the children and adolescents of our community for successful futures.

4. A superintendent should above all things be an advocate for all students of the district. He/she must have strong leadership characteristics, be affable to staff/parents and responsible for the direction of the educational and supplemental programs available.

DEIDRE WISE

Deidre Wise

Education: Bachelor’s in education, certified grades 1-8 (reading), grades 9-12 (English)

Occupation: Nurse

Family: Husband Jason, daughter Makenna and son Dylan

1. I feel, as an educator, that academics are important aspects of a great education. However, I also believe you need to include other genres of education, too. Nonetheless, without academics, the other programs may not be as successful. I also think you need to be able to explore your talents and interests in other areas, as well.

2. I believe that decision-making and resources of information come from all different places. As a school district, you need to have input from all aspects of the community. I have no doubt there are many people out there with some great ideas.

3. I am not seeking a place on the board to necessarily continue the direction and policies, or to change them. I am certain that being in education, where the majority of those years were spent at Paradise, enables me to have insight that others don’t have. Rest assured, I can speak for others who don’t feel like they have a voice.

4. I am looking for someone with integrity and good moral values. I want an individual who can bring new insight to our growing community. I would like for the superintendent to be a person who wants to invest in not only our students, but our community interests as well. I would love for the superintendent to bring innovative ideas to our district also.

PLACE 4

JAN COSGROVE

Occupation: Retired educator, owner of Poodles From Paradise and Art Happens

Education: Bachelor’s degree

Family: Husband Randy, two daughters and a son

1. Each one of these has its own level of importance, but the kids are all different. I want to see the kids who graduate prepared to go to college or go into the workforce and be productive citizens.

2. Paradise is a community that is centered around our school. It is important that we are “family,” all working together to make the most of what we have to offer. Relationship is the key – administration to teachers, teachers to students and parents. The school board’s place is to make sure the policies and people are the best to accomplish this.

3. Just retiring from the district after nearly 20 years, I believe it is time for some change to take place.

4. A leader who knows business, how to build relationships and is approachable. Who has the best interest for the community, which is having the best school district in Wise County.

JODY YATES (INCUMBENT)

Occupation: Norton Medals general manager

Education: Texas Tech – agricultural and applied economics, Washington University – strategic metals management, Vernon College – farm and ranch management

Family: Wife Chancey, children Jaxon, Lakon and Gazey

1. Academics, facilities and transportation are primary to ensure our students get the best education possible in a safe environment with dependable access. Athletics, band, fine arts, technology and vocational programs are all important. These programs develop life skills such as leadership, team concept, individuality, time management and work ethic.

2. Texas Education Code is detailed in this regard. The board and administration should always work together. A school board’s responsibility is to evaluate criteria and maintain an unbiased opinion until the facts are clearly laid out. Access to the school board is available for everyone, but procedure must be followed.

3. Continuing the direction and policies is critical to maintain the foundation. There will always be change; it must be calculated and strategic to be successful. I am seeking a place on the board to ensure every student, current and future, walks across the stage their senior year with a foundation to be successful.

4. Integrity and high moral values are No. 1. Skill sets must include leadership, effective communication, motivating and the ability to think strategically. Understanding school financing is critical. He or she needs to be committed for the long term and always put the students and faculty first.

Susie Burt is also running for place 4.

PLACE 5

CHAD COX

Occupation: Commercial claims supervisor, Farmers Insurance

Education: Masters of science, agriculture education

Family: Wife Nikki, children Alison and Alan

1. Academics, facilities, vocational programs, athletics, band and fine arts, technology, transportation

2. I prefer to initially involve the most affected parties when considering all aspects of a situation/decision (taxpayers, parents, teachers). Once basic information is gathered I feel that the administrative staff should be involved as well as fellow board members to cohesively make the best decision for both affected parties and the district as a whole.

3. The current board has done an exceptional job in balancing the PISD budget. I would like to continue these efforts while continuing to reward and recruit great staff. With continued district growth I would like to utilize all facilities without having to raise taxes or pass a bond for new facilities.

4. The new superintendent needs to be the right person for the district’s growing population. A trusted liaison between the school board, staff and community. He/she needs to come from a proven district with a track record for excellence in education and expanding population.

SCOTT COX

Scott Cox

Occupation: Shop foreman at WT Worth Tex Inc.

Family: Wife Mindy, sons Ty and Colby and daughter Carsyn

1. All sectors of the school are very important. Academics, facilities and transportation would be a few to start the top of the list. Vocational programs and technology are also something I would consider vital to our kids, as it seems trade-driven workers are getting more difficult to find. Athletics, band and fine arts also teach our kids responsibility and valuable life lessons.

2. In my opinion, the rating of such groups is tough, essentially because they are all important in the success of a school district. I would say administration, parents and teachers would be at the top of the list, with the taxpayers and school board members lending a strong opinion as well.

3. I would like to be involved with the PISD school board to be a part of a great school and community and to also help further the education of my kids as well as yours.

4. A few things I would like to see in a superintendent candidate would be family-oriented, conservative beliefs, background and experience in the position and a good leader.

PLACE 7

RENEA REMMELE

Renea Remmele

Education: Paradise High School graduate

Family: Husband Harold, daughters Holly, Misty and Keila, 10 grandchildren (four of which attend Paradise schools)

1. Academics must be emphasized as the most important. Although I do believe the others go hand-in-hand and are important in promoting school pride. If you have great programs and facilities, then the students and faculty will want to do their best and excel in everything they do.

2. I would say that in meetings the administration should have the most information for making decisions. I think that the teachers and parents would be next, and then the school board and taxpayers. I don’t know that it would always be in that order. I think it depends on the decisions being made.

3. My primary reason for seeking a place on the school board is that I care about what is going on in our school district. Harold and I have lived here all our lives and raised our daughters here. I worked in the school district for 14 years and take pride in our school and community. (Answer exceeded word limit.)

4. I would like to someone that has experience as a superintendent, especially in growth and budget. He/she needs to have great leadership qualities and lead by example. I would like someone who listens and is informative to the students, faculty and community. We have a great school, but there is always room for improvement. (Answer exceeded word limit.)

KENDALL WILLIAMS (INCUMBENT)

Kendall Williams

Occupation: Self-employed, TLR Welding and Fabricating/Sendero Sales and Rentals

Education: Western Texas College

Family: Wife Heather, children Layton, Rylan and Lastyn

1. I believe first and foremost that academics is the most important, followed by technology because it is a major part of our daily lives. Next, facilities and transportation, followed by athletics, band and fine arts and vocational programs, depending on what extracurricular interest each student has.

3. I believe that the direction and policies of the district are always changing and evolving according to what is needed at the time. Sometimes change will be needed, and sometimes it will not be needed. I believe it’s our job, along with everyone mentioned above, to work together to decide when and what changes are needed to benefit our district as a whole.

4. Someone who will make decisions in the best interest of the school. Someone who will take outside input to help make decisions. Someone who has good management skills. Someone that is relatable to our small-town values and goals.

Mike Christensen is also running for place 7. He did not return the questionnaire.

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