TME/Electrician, Union Pacific Railroad
Married, Mary Ellen Reilly
On the Record
What experiences do you have that make you a good candidate for office?
Together, my wife Mary and I have raised five children. All, of which, attended public school systems. Each child is an individual and unique as to what motivates them to excel. I am a stakeholder in this community, this district and our children’s future. I have two children currently attending our school system. My wife and I have supported, as well as taken part, in many local fundraisers, food drives, Toys for Tots. Additionally, we have worked for concession stands, Castle Challenge, etc. I’m currently serving on the Board of Trustees at 1st Presbyterian Church of Harvard. I have a good understanding of setting goals as well as achieving goals with limited resources. I work for the Railroad and part of my responsibilities are to manage purchasing and expense accounts, staying within current budgets as well as creative problem solving. I have learned to take ownership of the task at hand in order to achieve responsible, efficient and safe results.
What are your top two or three priorities if elected?
Checks and balances district wide, in addition to transparency and improving community relations.
Would you support freezing your taxing district’s levy until housing prices rebound? Why or why not?
For me, the biggest factor in freezing our districts levy would be the impact on our children as well as our ability, as a community, to provide the best possible education. As a whole, most taxing bodies feel it is their right of tradition to raise our property taxes every year – a tax to the max mindset. Times are tough and Harvard’s poverty rate is currently over 28%. The number of homes being sold under duress is alarming. The number of families our local churches are assisting with utility bills, rent, food, clothing and the like, is growing. Blue collar tax payers are making tough decisions and tightening their belts. It would do the tax payers well to know our district is in this with us and tightening their belts as well. There is an old saying “Watch your pennies and your dollars will take care of themselves.” With this being said, yes, I would support freezing our district tax levy if and when possible to do so. Tax payers understand we can’t continually freeze tax levies, however, we shouldn’t continually increases tax levies as well.
What one decision by the school board do you most disagree with and why?
There are many decisions made by the school board; some good and some bad; some popular and some not so popular. I’m in the business of moving forward and bringing this community together I see nothing positive in pointing out something I disagree with, at this time. In all fairness, I would need to be in on the discussion leading up to the decision in order to give a fair and educated assessment on the decision made. I am a new comer and there is much to be learned. I am in the process of getting up to speed on things. This is a must in order for me to become a positive, effective addition to our school board.
What was the biggest accomplishment of the board in the past year?
I am happy to see our Districts strategic goals re-assessed, re-written and approved. A greater emphasis on the importance of the Districts stakeholders, as well as their involvement, is apparent. Transparency of the Boards actions was a positive addition. If implemented properly, this will serve as a valuable tool.
Why should voters elect you to office?
First off, I am a parent and stakeholder in this community. I live here and my children attend school here. I have a real and vested interest in the future of our children and families of Harvard District 50. I stand firm on strong community. Every community member should understand that the city of Harvard and the school district is ours. These are our children and we owe it to them to take ownership and get involved. I’m a blue collar, every day Joe. I am willing to put forth the time and effort required for this voluntary, elected board position. To make sure the entire community is represented as a whole when it comes to decisions being made regarding our children, as well as our tax dollars. I believe transparency leads to accountability which creates trust. Trust is vital to improving the working relationship between our community and our District.
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