Friday, July 31, 2009

TOP STORY >> Three candidates for school board

Leader staff writer

Two candidates will be on the ballot in September for Position 1 on the Cabot School Board and a third can be found on the screen for write-ins.

Corey Williams and Mark Russell filed by the noon deadline on July 22, but Kip Beaudry arrived at the Lonoke County Clerk’s office with his petition containing the required 20 signatures, plus a few more, an hour and 20 minutes too late.

“I guess it’s a rule that has to be followed,” Beaudry said of the major snafu in his first race for public office.

School board elections are Sept. 15. The deadline to register to vote for the election is Aug. 17.

The winner of the election will replace Dr. Brenda Thielemier, a chiropractor and former board member, who was appointed in mid-June to complete the last three months of Brooks Nash’s first five-year term.

Nash, a retired principal, died May 30 from lung cancer.

Williams, 35, is vice president for Centennial Bank and has three children in the Cabot School District.

“Our district has a great school board and administrative staff and the top teachers in the state and offers our students the best possible education you could ask for as a parent,” Williams said when he announced for the position earlier this month.

“I want to continue the great things that our school board has done for our students and staff. I look forward to the challenge and am proud to become a candidate,” he said.

He graduated from Cross County High School in 1992 and from Arkansas State University in 1997 with a degree in marketing management.

He has been in banking since graduating and has lived in the Cabot School District for almost 10 years.

Williams is the vice president of the Cabot Chamber of Commerce and a member of the education committee. He is also a member of the Cabot Rotary Club and volunteers with the Cabot Panther Education Foundation.

He and his family are members of Mount Carmel Baptist Church, where he teaches Sunday school to 10th-grade boys.

Russell, 36, is the purchasing manager for Lomanco, a Jacksonville company that makes attic ventilation systems.

Russell has lived in Ward most of his life and graduated from Cabot High School in 1991. He said he is running because he wants to give back to the school district that gave so much to him.

“I have always been a big proponent of education. I actually enjoyed school,” Russell said. “I think Cabot is incredible and I’m not running because I see any problems there. I’m not in this thing with any sort of agenda.”

Russell has two sons and he coaches summer ball. He said while talking with friends, he realized that “it’s time for guys my age to step up to the plate.” He said serving on the school board seemed like the next step up from coaching to help children.

“This is not a stepping stone for me,” he said. “This is what I want to do.”

Russell and his family are members of the Cabot Church of Christ.

Beaudry, 42, is a real estate appraiser. He has lived in Cabot most of his life and graduated from Cabot High School in 1985.

Beaudry does not have children, but he said he is running for the school board because he believes the emphasis in the district is not where it should be.

“I want to better the public school system,” he said. “I think the focus is not as much on education as making sure everyone knows Cabot.”

Beaudry points to the jumbotron screen at the football field, which he calls one of the largest if not the largest in the state, as an example.

He has nothing against sports, he said. But there needs to be more emphasis on education and not so much on activities. “Too many kids are dropping out,” he said.