The Edmond Sun

Local News

February 4, 2014

Candidate bows out of Guthrie school board race

1 candidate actively campaigning for post

GUTHRIE — Although two candidates will be on the ballot for the upcoming Guthrie Board of Education election for Seat No. 4, there’s a possibility neither one will win the position.

Jennifer Bennett-Johnson and Jonathan “JW” Williams will be on the Feb. 11 ballots, however, Williams said he will not accept the position if he wins the election.

Williams, a police officer with the Guthrie Police Department, said he recently became a Guthrie Public Schools resource officer, making him ineligible for a seat on the school board.

Although Williams is ineligible for the position, his name still will be on the ballot and voters will still have the chance to vote for him.

If Williams does win the election over Johnson, the school board has 60 days to appoint a person of their choosing for the position.

Because of the possible situation, Johnson said she is continuing to move forward with her campaign as normal and has been talking to potential voters.

“I’m out of my comfort zone, but the more I keep visiting with people, it’s exciting,” Johnson said. “You really get to meet neat people and hear their concerns. I feel like I’m making the right decision in running.”

Johnson, a construction manager of seven years with Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, said she feels qualified for the position because of her career experience, which includes working with school districts on construction projects, including projects for Guthrie Public Schools. Johnson said her career also includes owning Patriot Industries in Guthrie with her husband, Sterling.

Johnson said she also feels qualified for the position because of her strong, conservative values and because of how much she truly cares for the community.

“I care about what these kids are being taught,” Johnson said. “With us owning our own business in Guthrie, we’re here every day. Our kids go to school here. When we do something … we do everything on the up and up.”

Johnson, a mother to a 15-year-old daughter and 12-year-old son, said she has concerns about the school district, including capital improvement projects and Common Core State Standards.

Johnson said she realizes capacity issues the district faces, but she said the district needs to take on capital improvement projects wisely because of the effects to the taxpayers.

“If the proposed long-term plan passes with a bond issue, it would affect the taxpayer by 31 percent,” Johnson said. “That’s a lot in a small community like this.”

“We need to take on smaller projects until we reach our long-term goals,” Johnson said. “Just take one bite at a time and manage it responsibly. Guthrie has been handling it responsibly, but maybe I can help and it’s a thing I can bring to the table.”

Johnson said she also suggests managing Common Core State Standards in a different way.

“We want high standards, but it’s almost like a one size fits all program and we’re just not like that,” Johnson said. “We need to manage it locally and tailor programs and resources to that. I see the frustration everyone is having with the curriculum.”

Seat No. 4 is currently filled by Orville Cornelius. Incumbent S. Janna Pierson is unopposed for Seat No. 3.

School board members serve five-year terms.

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