Q: What is the primary issue facing the school system that led you to run for office?
A: The decision to run started to form while attending a safety townhall meeting. In my role as a Jacksonville Police Officer, I attended this meeting along with some parents and students from the school district, a number of citizens not connected to any specific schools, and a few elected officials. The stated purpose was a good one, to discuss ideas to improve school safety. The result was light on ideas for improvement, but even if the vast majority of our families and teachers feel safe, we can always make improvements. The experience of even one child or teacher is worthy of consideration. This townhall meeting helped me realize that it was time to run.
Q: What are your skills and experiences that make you the right choice for Onslow County voters?
A: I am a father of one OCS student and one OCS graduate. I have firsthand knowledge as an involved parent of the amazing opportunities our public schools provide students AND the challenges our schools face. My experience for the past 27 years as a Jacksonville Police officer has been centered on service and protection of the community. I’ve operated in a way that demonstrates respect for the citizens I interact with on either side of the law AND the laws I’m sworn to enforce. As a dad and as a police officer, I can leverage my understanding and experience in helping to set sensible policy and work collaboratively with administrators, staff, families, the community, and my fellow board members to make certain we have safe schools and meaningful opportunities for students both in and out of the classroom.
Q: School safety has been a hot topic at Onslow County School board meetings. If elected, what will you do to help ensure the safety of students and staff on school grounds?
A: From the time I graduated at Swansboro High School, throughout my law enforcement career, and as an involved parent in multiple schools, I’ve been a direct witness to over 3 decades of safety improvements with the Onslow County Schools. A lot of recent attention has been given to physical safety measures and there will always be new options to consider given changing times. Knowing that there is no perfect physical safety measure, while the district continues to update and upgrade those physical features, some of the ideas I’d like the district to consider are: establishing a site for intensive behavioral needs particularly for the early grades, expanding partnerships with organizations like MENAC Inc. (“a Christian Veteran founded and operated mentoring organization”), with the successes but limited size of OCLC, investigating what other alternative school options and site locations are needed to assist principals in working with students with different needs, continuing to work with law enforcement and emergency service partners, expanding options like a twilight (night school) program, adding a JROTC program, exploring a middle college option and/or a full high school option at the Skills Center, adding EMT, Emergency Management, and Public Safety to the existing Fire Fighter program in order to create a Public Safety Academy, and working with our schools to identify and support other programs and options that result in high engagement with our students.
Q: Do you have children or grandchildren that attend the Onslow County Schools, and if so, what do you feel are the major issues that affect them?
A: Yes. I have one child in school and one graduate. What has impacted them the most is having great teachers and access to a well-rounded, quality education that includes core academic courses, advanced courses, CTE offerings, a strong music and art program, athletics, student organizations and clubs. I want to make sure we can continue those things for all students.
Q: If elected, how do you plan on filling the need for more teachers and school bus drivers? Would you support incentives, like benefits and bonuses?
A: To attract and retain teachers, we need to have a collaborative, respectful, and future-focused board that is able to work with our educational professionals and families in meeting students' needs. If the board is focused and supportive, we will be in a better position to make the case for remaining in Onslow County. The teachers’ supplement needs to be increased, and yes, I’d like OCS to continue to offer incentives for bus drivers like the signing bonus and perhaps a retention bonus.