Three spots on the Paradise ISD school board will go before the voters Nov. 4. The at-large seats are 3, 4, and 5.
Rusty Ford is unopposed for place 5, but places 3 and 4 are up for grabs.
Incumbent Kevin Howerton is challenged by Vann Wakefield for place 3, and Jim Taylor faces off against place 4 incumbent Carrie Preather.
Short biographies of the candidates, and their responses to questions concerning the challenges facing Paradise ISD’s school board, follow.
Kevin Howerton (incumbent)
Howerton has lived in Wise County for 51 years, the last 10 in Paradise, where he currently resides.
Howerton has been married for 25 years to his wife Celina. They have three daughters: Ally, 21, Rylee, 18 and Kaycie, 16.
His wife taught at PISD for 15 years, and he has many friends who teach in the district. He said he wants to serve to help keep the school going forward now that it’s back on track.
“The uphill climb now is state funding,” Howerton said. “A large number of schools like PISD have lost a considerable amount of funds from the state. It will take a strong effort from all the districts to get their voices heard. The board’s role should be to evaluate and support the Superintendent’s plans as they discover and move forward.”
Despite multiple attempts to contact challenger Vann Wakefield, there was no response as of press time.
Carrie Cleveland Preather (incumbent)
Preather has lived in the area for 40 years and resides in Paradise.
She is married to Larry Preather and has two children, Cash and Jett Preather, both active at PISD in academics and extracurricular activities. She said her children are looking forward to completing their senior year next spring.
Preather said It has been a pleasure to watch her children thrive at PISD over the last 12 years. She believes their time at Paradise has prepared them to be active, responsible and educated leaders in the future.
She graduated from PHS (1993) as did her parents and other family members over the years. Her mother taught in PISD for 25 years.
She said her love for Paradise is deep-rooted, and serving on the school board is her way of giving back. She said she is prepared for the issues the district is facing.
“I feel the major issue facing PISD today is the state funding cuts,” Preather said. “As a board, we work closely with our Superintendent Robert Criswell to ensure the money we receive is used wisely for the good of the children at PISD.”
JIMMIE D. “JIM” TAYLOR
Taylor, a Wise County resident since 1989. lives in Cottondale.
He has five grandchildren and two nieces in PISD, from pre-K to high school. In the past 20 years he has had three children and seven nieces and nephews graduate from Paradise High School. Taylor’s wife of 42 years, Patti, works for WG Financial in Bridgeport and Mann Refrigeration.
He said he wants to serve because because of his vested interest in Paradise ISD. He has previously served on the school board, so he already possesses the ability and experience to be effective.
“The major issue facing Paradise ISD is stability. In the past 18 months every administrative position from superintendent to elementary school principal and athletic director has changed personnel,” Taylor said. “The superintendent position is yet to be filled. It will be the task of the new board to provide the stability of purpose, goal, strategic and long-range planning.
“The first step is selection of a superintendent to operate under the leadership of the board. Change must be controlled and channeled to meet the 5-, 10-, 20-year goals and strategies as determined by the board. The fact of complete change in administrative staff from superintendent to elementary principal in a short period of time says the board has had to move from strategic planning to operational planning and firefighting.
“The board is the voice of the voters in determining the short and long term goals and strategies for the district.”
Early voting for the Paradise school board election will be 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 20-24, and 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Oct. 27-31 at three locations:
- Decatur City Hall, 201 E. Walnut St., Decatur
- Rhome City Hall, 105 1st., Rhome
- Bridgeport Law Enforcement Center, 1000 Thompson St., Bridgeport
Early voting will also be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Oct. 25, and noon to 5 p.m. Oct. 26, at Decatur City Hall only.
On election day, the polls will open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the following Paradise-area locations:
- Precinct 22 – AgriLife Extension Building, 206 S. State, Decatur
- Precinct 8 – Assumption Catholic Church 1305 S. Deer Park, Decatur
- Precinct 14 – Bridgeport Lions Hall, 1107 6th St., Bridgeport
- Precinct 16 – Boonsville Community Center, West on Hwy 920, Boonsville
- Precinct 17 – First United Methodist Church, Activity Center, 301 S. Oak, Paradise
- Precinct 20 – Cottondale Community Center, 161 CR 3571, Cottondale
- Precinct 23 – Boyd Community Center, 420 E Morton Ave., Boyd.