Candidates have lined up to fill two spots on the Mansfield school board. With 11 candidates in the race, it’s hard to narrow down the field.
The Mansfield News-Mirror asked all the candidates to fill out surveys to let voters know more about them. The City Council candidates’ answers were featured in the April 19 News-Mirror.
The field for the Place 6 seat is particularly crowded with nine candidates, while Place 7 pits an incumbent against a newcomer.
Place 6 incumbent Daniel Gallagher, 48, who has served since 2015, decided not to seek reelection due to his new position as assistant superintendent in Little Elm. Vying for his seat are Jessica Camacho, 34, a stay-at-home mother; Breton Hawkins, 19, a student at the University of Texas at Arlington; William Carl Lindstrom, 49, a school administrator; Scott Marburger, 46, a financial adviser; Houston Mitchell, 52, auto transport; Darrell Sneed, 58, a retired school administrator; Joshua Spare, 46, an IT director; Samer Yacoub, 50, an engineer; and Troy Washington, 35, a Realtor.
For Place 7, Courtney Lackey Wilson, 46, an executive assistant and business owner, is seeking her third three-year term against Kevin Robedee, 46, a teacher.
Voters can meet the candidates a pair of upcoming forums.
At 7 p.m. April 26, the Historic West Mansfield Community Development Corp. will host a forum for City Council candidates at Bethlehem Baptist Church's Sammons Chapel.
The Mansfield Area Chamber of Commerce is planning a candidate forum luncheon from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. April 27 at the Walnut Creek Country Club, 1151 Country Club Drive. The luncheon is open to chamber members and non-members. Cost is $30 for lunch or $10 without lunch.
The City Council, school board and bond elections are set for May 6. Early voting runs from April 24-May 2.
Mansfield school board Place 6
Jessica Camacho, 34, stay-at-home mom
Camacho has an honors bachelor’s degree in business from UTA and a master’s degree in public administration from Texas Tech.
She volunteered the American Red Cross, American Heart Association, Mission Arlington and Habitat for Humanity. She was an AmeriCorps member who volunteered over 900 hours with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Arlington, and is vice president of fund-raising for the PTA. She was on the City of Lubbock Youth Commission, and a student board member for the Volunteer Center of Lubbock.
“Mansfield ISD is growing exponentially, and several of our schools are already at capacity. We need to look toward the future. I support the bond package, which includes building three new schools to relieve crowding. Another issue I see is transparency. It is a complaint I have heard from many parents. We need open communication between admin, teachers and parents. Finally, I see a lack of districts as a problem especially considering growth and the number of cities represented in the school district. I don’t think the at-large system provides real representation for everyone.
“My top priority is strong support for our public schools. I believe that we need to maintain local control of our schools. It should be the citizens of Mansfield ISD – the parents, teachers, administrators and tax payers -- who are making decisions for our schools, not legislators in Austin or Washington. We know what is best for our community and we need to come together as a community in support of strong locally controlled public schools. I am also unequivocally opposed to voucher programs, and I believe it is the role of our school board to stand united as advocates against vouchers.
“First and foremost, I am running for school board because I’m a mom. As a mom, as a parent there are few things beyond their basic needs that are more important to me than their education. We have planted our roots here in Mansfield and with three small boys I have a vested interest in the quality and direction of our school district. I have always been passionate about education and have proven myself to be a dedicated community volunteer. I believe my education and experience will make me a valuable asset to the school board.”
Breton Hawkins, 19, UTA student
Hawkins is currently pursuing a degree in political science from the University of Texas at Arlington, where he is on the student congress. He campaigned for Victoria Neave, Texas State Representative, House District 107
“First is community engagement. MISD needs to do a better job of getting feedback from every facet of the community, from taxpayers, to students, teachers and parents. I will make sure I am out communicating with everyone, not just during my campaign, but throughout my entire term. Next is handling MISD’s growth. I will make sure every student has access to uncrowded and innovative learning environments. And lastly, MISD needs to stay at the forefront of innovation in the classroom. Having been a former student, with real, hands-on experience and a new perspective will aid MISD in doing so.
“Bringing a student perspective to MISD. A recent student myself, I know how to reach out, connect and listen to students. Mansfield ISD’s Vision 20/20 plan puts students first, but to accomplish this vision, a student perspective is needed. My experience, having graduated less than a year ago, makes me uniquely qualified to carry out that vision.
“As a recent product of Mansfield schools, I have a unique perspective that no other candidate has. This perspective will be vital in making sure that MISD is producing college- and life-ready students. Beyond my unique perspective, I am also committed to community engagement, and making sure that every single voice in Mansfield is heard. I truly believe that my experience and vision will be an important addition to continuing, and improving upon, a great tradition of educational excellence in MISD.”
William Carl Lindstrom, 49, school administrator
Lindstrom has a master’s degree in education form Texas A&M University-Commerce.
“I believe the most serious problem we have in MISD is a lack of planning for the future. Mansfield is no longer a small one high school district and the continued belief of some is going to hold the district back instead of embracing for the future. I plan to move the district forward by emphasizing the classroom models in which all children will continue to show growth by asking that the administration of the district to focus on the placement of people and programs in the schools themselves so teachers and parents have access to those programs that will help benefit the students the most.
“My top priority if elected will be the implementation of programs that have a direct effect in the classroom for students and teachers to be able to use and experience. I will be a proponent of teachers and their efforts in the classroom by trying to get the administration aspect of the education system to get out of the way so teachers can concentrate on the kids in the classroom.
“I don't know if I am the best candidate for the school board. However, I do believe the administration of MISD has been lackadaisical in its programs in helping all the students in the district and the administrative aspect of the district is more centrally located and not in the schools where I believe the greatest gains can be seen. I think the district is in need of new ideas and not people who have been in the district for a number of years. I do not see the current path the district is on being as successful as the people of MISD want.”
Scott Marburger, 46, financial adviser
Marburger has a bachelor’s degree in advertising from the University of North Texas.
He is a member of the Mansfield Rotary, volunteers with Habitat for Humanity and children’s ministry at Creekwood Church, a graduate of Leadership Mansfield, an ambassador for the Mansfield Area Chamber of Commerce, and past president of the Mansfield Sunrise Toastmasters Club and Metroplex Business Associates.
“(The three most critical problems facing the school board are) fiscal responsibility, ensuring all students receive the best education possible, especially students that are SED or are in programs such as GT, SPED and 504, and the school climate. Students need to: be motivated to learn, feel accepted and safe from bullying and be counseled when dealing with emotional distress.
“Every issue has a core root cause(s). My approach to solving an issue is to identify the cause and treat that rather than the symptoms. Every solution needs to be well-thought out and may require using creative solutions, which is one of my strong traits.
“It would be to ensure our educators are represented when decisions are made that affect how we educate our children. Both of my parents are retired teachers and my wife is currently an MISD teacher and I have always had a huge respect for the time and effort they put into their profession. Our focus should be in empowering our dedicated teachers with the tools, resources and encouragement necessary to care for our children. Our educators and school staff are the first line of influence with the kids and their voice deserves to be represented.
“I live, work and worship in Mansfield, and I am actively involved in the community.
“I have two children in MISD schools and a spouse that has served this district for 13 years. All three of my children should be going to school in MISD, but our district does not have programs in place that would properly educate my middle son. I have seen, from the perspective of both parent and teacher, the good things about MISD and the areas that need improvement.”
Houston Mitchell, 52, auto transport
Mitchell assisted in starting and was president of the Dad's Club at Roberta Tipps Elementary, founded and was president the Dad's Club at Mary Orr Intermediate, past member of the Dad's Club at Asa Low Intermediate, past president of the Dad's Club at Brooks Wester Middle School, Mansfield High Band Booster member, Put It Down Save a Life chairman for the Mansfield High PTSA, past vice president of the Citizens Police Academy Alumni Association and past president of the Citizens Fire Academy Alumni Association.
“One critical problem facing the MISD school board is growth. I believe one solution is support of the bond package, which will build new schools to relieve future crowding. The second critical problem is retaining our student population to keep them from leaving the district. I believe the solution is effectively promoting our school district and offering innovative programs. The third critical problem is communication. I believe the solution is to continue to offer public forums, such as the one the MISD is having for the bond package. This give everyone a chance to hear exactly what is on the bond and an opportunity to address questions and concerns.
“My top priority if elected to office is to support the growth of innovative programs to make sure every student has the best opportunities and be successful upon graduation whether they continue on to college or not.
“I am the best candidate for the MISD school board trustee Place 6 because I have been a parent volunteer and I am fair-minded. I have worked along side administrators, teacher and parents for 16 years. I am an advocate for the MISD and inclusive to all involved. And I love the city of Mansfield and the community.”
Darrell Sneed, 58, retired school administrator
Sneed is currently as executive pastor/minister of education of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Arlington. He has a bachelor of science in education from the University of Texas at El Paso, and master of science in school leadership from the University of North Texas.
He has been involved in prison ministry for 20 years and with Christian Men Job Corp of Arlington.
“The top three critical issues facing the (Mansfield school board) are meeting the academic needs of all students. The solution is to utilize bold, creative and non-traditional approaches to educational programs that meet the needs of our students: from struggling learners to high achievers. Protecting the teaching and learning. The solution is to minimize administrative barriers, policies and practices that decrease instructional focus time from both teachers and administrators while opposing any state mandates that are counter-productive to this end. Funding challenges. The solution is to ensure appropriate allocation and accountability of current funds and promote the development of creative solutions to offset dwindling state and federal funding sources without eliminating quality of educational services.
“If elected to office, my top priority is to develop a collaborative relationship with the board members, the administration, the MISD employees and the community to help tackle the issues and critical needs of students. Building relationships is key as it leads to transparency and accessibility to all stakeholders. A board member is a public servant, and the only way to serve the public well is to develop a rapport that allows us to hear the heart of our community on their dreams and goals for the academic, social and emotional well-being of students.
“My 34 years in education have been motivated by one desire: do what is best for students. This desire has inspired my vast educational journey - teacher, principal and central administrator. I know first-hand the challenges facing all the stakeholders. It is not my desire to become a politician, but to remain a public servant. A servant who cares about the community and all of its students. At the end of the day, it is important to have a person who has the necessary knowledge and heart to do what is right for the students we are entrusted to protect.”
Joshua Spare, 46, IT director
Spare has a bachelor’s degree from Rutgers University, and is a Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP).
He is past president and finance chair for Mira Lagos HOA, past president of Peninsula PID, Grand Prairie Planning and Zoning commissioner, Santa Cops and Habitat for Humanity volunteer.
“The most pressing issue facing Mansfield ISD is the rapid growth of the district. We need to make sure we have enough schools to provide an uncrowded learning environment for our children. Overcrowding is extremely detrimental to a child’s ability to learn. Mansfield ISD also needs to continue to increase educational choice for their students. I will continue the Power of Choice programs and expand them so more children can take advantage of this wonderful opportunity. It provides a tailored learning path for children and prepares them for a successful career.
“My top priority is ensuring we have safe, uncrowded schools for our children. Overcrowding causes students to have many problems throughout the day such as crowded lunchrooms, packed gymnasiums and delays in drop-off and pickup by parents. Portables are not a good answer to this problem as they have security and safety issues. I will use my experience in managing and analyzing construction to help the district address this issue by building new schools for our children. Children are Mansfield ISD’s greatest asset and they can only truly succeed if we provide them safe, uncrowded schools.
“I will use my unique experience, skillset and background to improve the education of our children. I am from a family of educators and I have dedicated the past nine years to selflessly serving my community. My service as secretary of the Planning and Zoning Commission and president of my HOA and PID boards has given me the experience to work directly with parents and administrators. I have 24 years of experience managing multi-million dollar budgets and projects with complete financial transparency. I will use my strength in creative problem solving to address the other complex issues facing Mansfield ISD.”
Troy Washington, 35, Realtor
Washington attended Prairie View A&M University and Austin Institute for a real estate license.
He has been involved with the YMCA, Community Frontline and Every Child Wins.
“Improve transparency. Engage parents and the larger community in ongoing dialogue about the changes needed to prepare more students for success.
“Advance education. Collaborate with principals and teachers on new ideas that push the envelope and are cutting-edge learning techniques.
“Increase safety. Partner with MISD Police and the community to crack down on the drugs and weapons that have been appearing in our schools.”
Samer Yacoub, 50, engineer
Yacoub has a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering, some master’s in education courses and a teaching certificate.
He has been involved with Community U, Pinetree ISD in Longview and is treasurer of Arbors of Creekwood HOA.
“Old-style teaching and busy work does not adequately prepare our students for the current challenges. Our teachers are well compensated and a higher level instruction approach should be expected.
“Parental involvement is key to learning excellence. Our schools should be more inviting of students and their parents. Strengthening the bridges with parents is indispensable to our students’ success and brighter future.
“As an engineer, I think that our schools could, and should be doing more to improve our kids’ knowledge and mastery of both math and sciences. More innovative approaches should be implemented to attain the level of mastery needed for higher level performance.
“My priority is to ensure that our children are positioned to be successful while attending our schools and well served to attain continued success into their adulthood. Achieving such success will be built on four strong foundations: stronger partnership between schools and parents, more innovative learning tools and approaches, strong foundation in math and science, and an attractive environment where students feel safe and comfortable shining.
“In addition to the genuine love and caring for the children and our community, that I am sure is shared by all candidates, my philosophical, educational and experience background is very unique and is well positioned to achieve great results. Helping children become great leaders is the main goal I will be working very hard to achieve. My experience with education, engineering, science, math, management, leadership, team work, mentoring, compassion, love of learning and, most important, parenting are all qualities I believe will help achieve my goal of Helping Children Become Great Leaders.”
Mansfield school board Place 7
Courtney Lackey Wilson, 46, executive assistant and business owner
Wilson as served on the Mansfield school board since 2011. She has a bachelor of science degree from Tarleton State University and Texas Provisional Teaching License. She has served on multiple PTAs, charity boards and churches.
“Growth is the most immediate challenge for our district. The bond will provide immediate relief for overcrowded schools and improve student-teacher ratios.
“We must work with our state legislature to address school funding issues. Taxpayers continue to see their school taxes rise yet our students do not see an increase in funds due to the school funding plan currently in place, which takes money away from our district when tax revenues increase. We must provide educational choices that inspire and engage our students as they prepare for their academic or vocational future.
“Students always have and always will be our priority; however, making this the best working environment for our staff is a priority as well. We will continue to strive for excellence as a team and make this a great place to live, learn and teach.
“Over the last six years, I have had the privilege of representing MISD voters as we have faced dramatic challenges in the public school system in Texas. As a graduate of MISD schools, I have seen the changes and challenges that are unique to MISD. My experience with the board, my education background and my current position in administration make me the most qualified candidate for MISD Place 7.”
Kevin Robedee, 46, teacher
Robedee has a doctorate in administration and supervision from the University of Houston, a master’s degree from Rice University and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Colorado.
He was a reserve police officer for the city and county of Denver, Colo.
“The three most critical problems facing the school district are increasing the district’s proficiency in mathematics, aligning the district’s finances with the district’s challenges, and building the critical structures, systems and cultures that are unique to Mansfield and its public education system. Math proficiency can be achieved by cultivating number sense in the lower grades. Allocating resources in alignment with the district’s achievement data. The district must create conditions that enable students and teachers to flourish. The district needs to develop and manage human capital. To succeed, reform efforts must address all aspects of a district’s organization.
“My top priority is to make Mansfield ISD the best school district in the state of Texas and in the nation. I can achieve this by doing one thing and that is appreciating the district’s employees. This approach might seem unconventional, but it makes perfect sense it’s called the trickle-down effect. I believe that if we treat the employees right, they will treat our students right, and in turn that will result in increased performance for everyone. A district that motivates its employees to take pride in what they do translates into going the extra mile for its students.
“I am the best qualified candidate for this office because I have been a teacher for last 17 years, therefore I understand what occurs in the classroom. I hold a principal certificate, so I understand what happens at the school level. I also hold a superintendent certificate, so I understand what occurs at the district level. I have had experience teaching and working in small, medium and large school districts. I understand that challenges in the district are not separate but are linked. Strategies need to be consistently implemented across schools. I believe that happy employees are productive employees.”
This article contains information from News-Mirror archives.
Early voting for the Mansfield City Council and school board elections began Monday and continue through May 2. Polls will be open from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. May 6. To find your polling place, go to mansfieldtexas.gov or mansfieldisd.org.