On the Record
What experiences do you have that make you a good candidate for office?
I bring over fourteen years experience in management with a mix of the retail market and serving active duty in the United States Marine Corps. In both venues I worked with diverse groups of individuals to problem solve and compromise during decision making looking at all sides of a problem or opportunity before making any decisions. More importantly than any business experience however is that I value the opinions and ideas of the community I live in and will consider and respect them in every aspect of the decision making process that affects them either as parents, staff members and/or tax payers.
What are your top two or three priorities if elected?
I believe that just because a taxing authority has the rite to request additional tax dollars, that does not always mean it is the right thing to do in their given community. With things as dire as they are at this time, families being forced out of homes and into foreclosure, continuing to burden this community with increased taxes is unsustainable. District 36 has very little commerce and can’t afford to lose the few we have by taxing them out. As we have had to do in our homes, it is time to look within and find where cut backs can be made that will have the least impact on education and start making them. In this economy, hard decisions have had to be made in our homes since we can’t wave a magic wand to simply raise taxes on our occupants against their will to buy whatever we want. Time to start making these decisions at the school as we can not sustain the current spending. Those elected to fill these positions must work to be more open with the community. The secretive nature in which it appears things are done at times does not foster a positive relationship with the community. Appearance is everything. Open and most importantly honest communication is key to ensuring your community understands what and why the Board makes the decisions it makes. Forcing FOIA requests instead of answering a parents question is a waste of tax dollars.
Would you support freezing your taxing district’s levy until housing prices rebound? Why or why not?
I am not in favor of the continuous increases the District has levied against the tax payers. I can not guarantee I would support a complete freeze simply based on housing prices because there are many other factors that make a District sustainable. I am 100% interested in looking at all other options for reducing current taxing and when at all possible, eliminating future increases. I do not agree with the manner in which the current BOE appears to hide notification of levies by posting them in a local paper viewed by few in the commmunity versus the paper that covers all other events that happen in the District. Though they are fulfilling their “legal” obligation of notification, they are not fulfilling their moral obligation to truly inform their constituents. The Board owes it to the community to advertise in the paper they actually read if they are indeed looking for open and honest communication with the public. I believe in being open with the people that pay the bills and not trying to hide taxing information from them. Lifelong members of Wonder Lake are being taxed out. After investing the majority of their lives into a community, the last thing people should be doing is facing decisions of leaving their homes for the inability to continue paying the taxes forced upon them and watching their taxes increase year after year.
What one decision by the school board do you most disagree with and why?
Spending is my biggest issue. What has occured over the last few years since I have become involved in these meetings and informed as a member of this community is unacceptable. While there are always things that do need to be upgraded and maintained, the spending on unnecessary furniture, technology and landscaping over the last few years, paid for by tax payers while our community struggles to pay their own bills, has been excessive and unfair. More than that I take issue with the BOE “hiding” any taxing information and open bids in a newspaper few in their community read claiming they do it to save money and be fiscally responsible. Being fiscally responsible doesn’t mean asking for taxes simply because you can and spending money simply because it is there. I think the members of this community are worth the extra dollars spent to actually keep them informed as to what the BOE and School District is doing and they are paying for. If we are really looking for open and honest communication with the tax payers, we shouldn’t be “hiding” this information.
What was the biggest accomplishment of the board in the past year?
I appreciate that the Board added “response to public comments” at regular meetings that address comments made at prior meetings by members of the community. While I don’t always agree with responses or the lawyer talk that we sometimes receive, it is a great improvement from speaking at meetings and never hearing any response at all. The community needs to be a part of the solution.
Why should voters elect you to office?
I believe that any position in government should have term limits in order for fresh perspectives to be constantly introduced. You need new ideas to keep creative problem solving solutions flowing through the challenges that face todays School Districts and communities. Board Members need to be able to look at any situation brought to them from three different perspectives. 1) What is best for the staff? 2) What is best for the students? 3) What is best for the community (tax payers) who are paying the bills? If you can’t look at all three when problem solving, you are doing an injustice to the process. This does not mean you can always please all three, but you have to give the same consideration to all while coming up with ideas and solutions. We all need to learn how to work together and respect one another.
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Jerald Darlington Jr.