Category Archives: School board election

Partisan support for nonpartisan offices

Want lower taxes, better jobs, accountability, economic growth, personal freedom and limited government? The Sedgwick County Republican Party says their folks can do it — even in the non-partisan offices of mayor, city council and school board.

That’s the message in a recent Sedgwick County Republican Party mail-out flier that says “Wichita wins with Republican principles.” It lists Republicans Carlos Mayans, Sue Schlapp, Paul Gray and both Paul Tobia and Jeff Longwell for city races. Also on their list: Cindy Duckett, John Stevens, Karl Peterjohn and Jeff Davis for Wichita School Board positions. Then, the tiny asterisks: “*We encourage you to support the candidate of your choice.”

It’s not just the Rs showing their party colors, though. Mayoral candidate Carl Brewer, a Democrat, has also had help from his party — most notably from former Lt. Governor Tom Docking, who was one of three prominent Democrats to endorse Brewer in a letter sent to local Dems.

For more on the partisan nature of non-partisan elections and list of candidates’ registered party affiliations, see this previous post.

I’m not telling you what to do but….

Wichita schools superintendent Winston Brooks is happy that everyone is back from spring break but he wants to remind everyone to vote on April 3.

Not sure who to vote for? Call the union.

In an email, Brooks, who sent it out a district wide, thanked teachers and staff for their work during the year.

At the end, he urges everyone to do their civic duty and vote. Brooks writes:

“Finally, let me remind all of you that you owe it to yourself, to our students, to the District to go vote on Tuesday, April 3. As you all know, we have contested races in four out of seven School Board seats. Contested races are in District 1, 3, 4, and At Large. I strongly recommend that you educate yourself about the candidates in each of these races. If in doubt, I would encourage you to contact Paul Babich or Larry Landwehr of UTW should you need recommendations on who to vote for. I also want to remind you that those of us who reside within the boundaries of USD #259 will be able to vote for all four races.”

The UTW or the United Teachers of Wichita, the teacher’s union, endorsed incumbent Kevass Harding, district 3 candidate Barb Fuller and district 4 candidate Jeff Davis. The same candidates endorsed by a majority of the school board members.

So who really is responsible for Core Knowledge?

An item that didn’t fit in yesterday’s school board race story, puts district 4 candidate Cindy Duckett and Chip Gramke at odds. It starts out with a phrase in Duckett’s literature that quotes Gramke. The quote said:

“Cindy was tremendously helpful in getting me the information [on Core Knowledge],” She did a tremendous job. If you look at the test scores of these two schools, it works.”

Hold on says Gramke. That might not be entirely accurate.

“Did we discuss core knowledge? Yes,” Gramke said in a conversation with the Hall Monitor last week. “Was she instrumental in starting the school? The people that were instrumental were Chip Gramke and Marty Marshall. They talked to the parents and pushed it through the board agenda.”

Core Knowledge is a magnet concept for two schools in the district.

After calling Duckett for comment, a series of emails were sent out to school board members, including Gramke, and the media. In one of them, she outline her exact contribution to the magnet concept:

“If asked, Chip may recall that I — alone — secured the donation of phonics and math textbook from Saxon Publishers in Norman, OK for every Bryant Core Knowledge student. He might also recall that I — alone — secured a large donation for the Bryant Core Knowledge library from Don and Faith Bell at Security Savings Bank in Olathe. He might also recall the numerous meetings at the UTW office with me, Greg Jones, Barb Fuller, David Payne and former school board member Marshall Jones to get this project going. Chip can be a sweetheart but I think his memory might be getting a bit cloudy.”

Gramke, fellow board member Lynn Rogers, and businessman Fred Berry, will hold a press conference at 2:30 today in the 3rd floor boardroom in the central library. The gentlemen will endorse Duckett’s opponent, Jeff Davis.

And in another twist Berry is listed as one of the contributors for CEO First, Duckett’s non-profit that gives scholarships to low-income students to attend private schools.

Also on that list is at-large candidate Karl Peterjohn, the Kansas Taxpayers Network which Peterjohn heads, and state board of education member Steve Abrams.

Brewer, Harding and the African American vote

Since city council member Carl Brewer announced his run for mayor, many have asked if he would be the city’s first African American mayor. He would not. A. Price Woodward Jr. (see photo on the left) was a city commission member from 1967 to 1970 and mayor from 1970 to 1971.

But Brewer would be the first African American elected by citywide vote — like Carlos Mayans was the first Hispanic elected by popular vote. The historic possibility could galvanize African American voters more than in previous city elections, Ken Ciboski, a political science professor at Wichita State University said.

“Poor African Americans who often do not vote will vote,” Ciboski said. “I think people see a possibility for him to pay attention to their needs and their concerns. They see this as an opportunity to be recognized and have their voices heard.” And, Ciboski said, if the city at large again has low turn out in April, a strong showing in the African American community could make it easier for Kevass Harding, an African American, to beat Karl Peterjohn in the race for at-large school board. As a total, African Americans make up 11 percent of the city’s population, according to 2005 Census estimates.

I’m so excited! No, really. I am.

In the at-large Wichita school board race, Kevass Harding after a day of campaigning was ready to do cartwheels.

Karl Peterjohn? Well, let’s just say he was awake.

When The Hall Monitor called to interview him about winning a slot in the April 3 election, he saved his excitement and was more reserved than usual. Peterjohn, the taxpayers advocate, isn’t animated by nature but a drop in excitement was still noticeable.

So why no excitement? It’s really about being cautious saying that his “campaign continues” and they will “continue to get the word out.”

And we’ll continue to keep tabs on you Mr. Peterjohn. YEAH! Or should we say… yeah.

You’ve got campaign mail.

Wichita school board at-large candidate Mary Dean has been campaigning through the cyber space. She’s emailing her stance on such things as the minority achievement gap and the district’s suspension/expulsion policy.

Dean, a retired Boeing employee, is one of five candidates for the at-large seat. It’s the only seat where an incumbent, Kevass Harding, is running for re-election.

That said, she’s also running in a race where two candidates, Harding and tax-payer advocate Karl Peterjohn, have much more name recognition than she does.

As for why she is running, here’s a taste from her email:

I believe it is time for the School Board to remember that the Superintendent works for them not the other way around. And, finally the School Board should be reminded that they represent and answer to the citizens, taxpayers, and students of USD 259.

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Peterjohn for Duckett?

In an email received by The Hall Monitor, Wichita school board at-large candidate and long time anti-tax advocate Karl Peterjohn shows his support to district 4 candidate Cindy Duckett. Her company provides scholarships for students to attend private schools.

From the email:

“Cindy is running in district four in the primary but only one other candidate filed so she will be running district wide in the April 3 general election. I believe that she has an excellent chance of winning.”

The email, written to James Hodges and recieved by countless others, shows that Duckett has given Peterjohn equal support.

“She was strongly urging me to file too and she was the last candidate to file before the noon deadline. I filed for the at large seat just seconds before her and am now one of five candidates to be narrowed down at the Feb. primary.”