Tahlequah Daily Press


January 27, 2014

School board races not high-profile, but they can be very important

TAHLEQUAH — Not many people would argue that the most important resource for a community is its children, and ensuring those children get a good education should be a top priority.

Then why do so few people turn out to vote in annual school board elections?

We complain about state and federal government attempts to wrest control from local hands, whether through bills to ensure students can wear logo T-shirts from lobbying groups, or Common Core standards and No Child Left Behind. Paradoxically, though, we can’t bother to safeguard that local control by showing up at the polls and picking the best people to make decisions about our schools. And when we do vote, we choose a friend or relative, or the guy who goes to Kiwanis Club meetings with us. Sometimes, we don’t have a clue who the candidates are or what they stand for.

It’s true that many school boards are stacked through the good ol’ boy system by power players who have as little chance of being successfully challenged as a 20-year civil servant does of being fired for poor performance. That could be one reason for voter apathy. And many of us are simply too busy to leave work early or delay milking the cows to cast ballots in an off-season election.

But not only should we make the time to vote, we should take the time to educate ourselves about the candidates and their qualifications and philosophies. These are the people, after all, who will hire the administrators who run our schools, and who in turn hire the teachers – who often spend more time with our kids than we do ourselves.

Three Cherokee County schools will host elections Feb. 11, and Hulbert School District voters are being asked to fill two seats. Those races many be important, but even more noteworthy is the fact that seats in the seven remaining rural school districts went unchallenged. In some cases, it may be because an incumbent is doing a standout job. In others, it may be another case of voter apathy.

An unusual situation manifested itself in the Tahlequah district, where the lone candidate, Scott Pursley, won by default after failing to draw an opponent. But eligibility issues arose, and now that seat will have to be filled through appointment or special election.

But for the record, here are how the four races have shaped up: In Hulbert, JuaNita Keener and Rachel Lynn McAlvain are vying for Seat 2, while Trent L. Bowlin and Kathy Ritchie are seeking Seat 4. In Keys, it’s a three-way race among Radean Ritchie Foreman, Julie Smith and Rick Patrick. Briggs will see another three way: Shannon Tate Robertson, Annette Long-Stinnett and Deretha Dawes.

If you’re a voters in these districts and you don’t know much about your potential board members, we may be able to help with that. In the next week, we’re going to make contact with the candidates and ask a few key questions. We can’t promise they’ll all respond, but if they don’t, that in itself will answer a big question for you.

So stay tuned – and pledge to get involved.

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  • As education, good jobs falter, violent crime rate will go up

    As April winds down, and with it Child Abuse Prevention Month, it’s worth again noting that the rate of violence in Oklahoma has been creeping up in recent years. And it’s time for our state’s top leaders – who wear blinders when it comes to anything negative – to discuss what we’re going to do about it.
    Late last year, the FBI listed Oklahoma as the 10th most dangerous state in the union, based on statistics from 2012. Violent crimes are rape, murder, robbery and aggravated assault. Some Okies might find it a bit disconcerting to learn that our state ranked above California and New York in this data. Topping the list was Tennessee, followed by Nevada, Alaska, New Mexico, South Carolina, Delaware, Louisiana, Florida and Maryland.

    April 23, 2014

  • Ban on wage hikes by municipalities a mark of hypocrisy

    The words “God” and “governor” may share the same first two letters, but the two are hardly interchangeable.
    But let’s assume Gov. Mary Fallin really isn’t deluded enough to place her powers on the level of a deity. What rationale would a woman who has championed smaller government and local control use to explain her hypocrisy in banning individual Oklahoma cities from raising minimum wages in their jurisdictions?

    April 18, 2014

  • Community cleanups a good way to ensure our collective success

    This is our community – and it’s no better than what we make it. Let’s make it look great.

    April 16, 2014

  • Attack at school in Pennsylvania: Mental illness root of problem

    Washington’s crusade against guns was dealt a severe blow on Wednesday. No, it wasn’t the Supreme Court curtailment of the Second Amendment right of all Americans to own firearms. It wasn’t an executive order handed down by the administration. It was the brutal assault by a high school student in Pennsylvania against his fellow students – with a knife.

    April 14, 2014

  • People with faulty zippers should be booted from office

    We may forgive, but we shouldn’t forget, because there’s serious work to do in Washington. That work will never be accomplished as long as flawed zippers - literally or figurately – are a pervasive problem.

    April 11, 2014

  • Do your part to fight animal and child abuse

    It’s hard to change the habits of an abuser, especially when mitigating factors – such as alcohol or drugs – are involved. And these patterns tend to repeat themselves in successive generations. But all of us can take one small step to help eradicate this epidemic, and that is to report it when we see it.

    April 9, 2014

  • NSA head lies to Congress, and seems to get away with it

    Is there an obvious pattern of criminality within these governmental agencies? If so, why isn’t the Judicial Department investigating?

    April 7, 2014

  • Pass for rich kiddie rapist proves that justice isn’t blind

    Someone in Wilmington, Del., needs to keep an eye on Superior Court Judge Jan Jurden for the next few months, because she might improve her standard of living due to a sudden influx of cash.
    There’s no other way to explain why Jurden would have sentenced an ultra-wealthy heir to the du Pont fortune to probation for raping his 3-year-old daughter. It’s an outrageous miscarriage of justice that once again proves when it comes to the U.S. justice system, the elite get a pass almost every time.

    April 4, 2014

  • Maybe it’s not $3.2B, but state should still account for tribal cash

    In an editorial published last week, the Daily Press said that through tribal compacts, the state of Oklahoma received about $3.2 billion in annual revenue, partly attributable to the 117 casinos (or 118, in some reports) run by 33 tribes in the state. The information we accessed for that piece was confusing, and had a typo or two, which may have led us to overstate – to a considerable degree – how much money the tribes actually give the state.

    April 2, 2014

  • Tribal compacts should mean state has money to perform its functions

    Oklahoma should be rolling in the dough. The statistics bear that out. Thirty-three American Indian tribes operate 117 casinos in this state. Thanks to “compacts,” these tribes have been sharing the wealth with the state of Oklahoma. And thanks to the casinos, that wealth is substantial.

    March 28, 2014


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