By Adam Pagnucco.
Board of Education Member Jill Ortman-Fouse just announced on Facebook that she will be running for Council At-Large. This comes eleven days after she said she would be running for reelection to the school board. We will have more to say about this and other events in the Council At-Large race, but for now, we reprint Ortman-Fouse’s Facebook post below.
Black men make up 2% of the nation’s educators in our schools. John Robertson is one of those role models who would like to make a bigger difference as your at-large Board of Education member. As you might recall, that’s my seat. 😉
I’m going to try not to give you whiplash from my candidacy for board announcement last week, but here it goes:
I really appreciated all the amazing responses to my announcement — from educators, students, parents, neighbors and community members. You all are wonderful and I’m extremely blessed to know you.
Then I heard that someone had jumped in my race. Nervously, my whole family set about searching to see who he was.
We found his graduation speech. I read it and I thought, wow. Another search revealed he had a masters in social work. I literally talk about MSWs’ skills in terms of the mental health challenges we are facing in our schools all the time. As you know, our students’ (and their family’s) mental health needs, have been a priority for me. Then I texted some folks to see who might know him. He was described as “smart, mature, innovative.”
My friends said I could beat him. Incumbents always have an advantage — especially in a county of over 1 million people where getting your name out is hard. Then I’d text them the links, and they would agree with me, that he sounds amazing.
So, Mr. Robertson and I had coffee. I went down my list of biggest concerns and things I’m passionate about for our students, staff and school system. We are clearly on the same page. I’m going to step out of the race because I’m confident John would be a great addition to the team, and I can’t wait for you to learn more about him.
What next? Well, one of the things I get in trouble for is working outside my approved lane of education policy — because I care as passionately about the issues that impact our kids and families outside of our schools as the ones inside. So, why not try making it official as a member of our County Council? I realize others have made the suggestion along the way (which I appreciated) and in a much timelier fashion. 😉 But I didn’t want to leave the work unsupported.
I know there are about 30 candidates running for four at-large seats. I know I haven’t even started to raise money for a campaign. I know some organizations have already endorsed, and other candidates have been campaigning for almost a year.
But I also know that we have made a difference together, and I would like to continue to work with our community and our leaders at the county and state level to make our collective vision a reality. I would bring everything you have counted on in my work on the board to the council. I certainly would understand if members of our community were disappointed. I know how valuable your partnership is, but I think we could actually have an even bigger impact together on the council.
I would bring the education focus and knowledge of where the gaps are to continue to advocate for our schools. I would continue to be a strong voice for transparency, accountability and responsiveness, to ensure our county resources are used most efficiently and effectively. And I would bring my experience as an elected leader representing your interests, my desire to listen closely to different voices and respect them — even when I disagree, working as hard as I can for our community to win together, to the council role if I were so fortunate to win that position.
I am going to need 250 contributions of $150 or less, totalling $20,000 in about 75 days to qualify for public financing. I know it’s a very steep climb. But I’m an eternal optimist, and my friends who have volunteered to help are amazing. So, stay tuned…
I know I made you scroll twice. That’s my thing.