Over the next six-years, the school board members elected this November will be dealing with issues many of us have not yet imagined. Today's Saline Post question is more about how candidates approach their role as school board members than about any single issue.
There are four candidates running for two open six-year terms on the boards. Smita Nagpal, Diane Friese, Karen Delhey and Paul Hynek will appear on the Nov. 6 ballot. The candidates have paired off to run as teams, with Nagpal and Friese running as one team and Delhey and Hynek running as the other. Voters, however, are free to choose any two they wish.
See the candidates side-to-side when the Saline High School student group Students Reinvesting In a Valuable Education (STRIVE) hosts a candidates forum at 6:30 p.m., Oct. 25 at Saline Middle School.
Here is today's question:
What principles and beliefs guide you in public service?
Diane L. Friese
I have spent the majority of my life as a public servant committed to the well being of students in several school districts. It is this commitment that I will bring, not only to the board of education, but to the community as a whole.
I believe it is exactly that….public ‘service’. It is not about going in with my own personal agenda. It’s about the best interests of the stakeholders. In this instance, the students and families of Saline Area Schools. I believe that it is crucial to work with all stakeholders in a fair, ethical and collaborative way and listening to and treating everyone with respect
First and foremost, constructive dialog at all stakeholder levels, is absolutely necessary. Listening to and understanding what others are saying is critical. Opinions may differ at times, but each of those opinions must be heard and treated with respect. Due diligence should always be used. Data and the subsequent analysis of the data, when available, are necessary. People often believe that their “cause” is a slam-dunk based on data and/or other criteria alone. Ultimately, a decision on how to proceed will invoke the questions “How does this affect Saline Area Schools?” and “How does this affect our students?” Just because something was successful in another district here or across the country doesn’t mean it is the right solution for Saline Area Schools. This is why we fight for local control.
I believe that holding a public office is an honor and a privilege. It is also a labor of love. Often it doesn’t come with grand prizes, lots of dollars, or unadulterated praise. People will doubt your intentions, even if your intentions are simply to do good for your community. I believe in doing good, anyway.
In any office, public or otherwise, success stories are never written alone – there is often a team of people involved. Those who hold public office need to be open to listening actively, seeking input from a variety of sources, and working in a collaborative manner with all those who wish to participate in government.
Those who are serving on a School Board also need to understand that people’s perceptions can range from seeing the Board as an omnipotent group on the one hand and a powerless committee on the other. Board members need to respect the power of their position while understanding the boundaries of the role. Adhering to proper Board roles does not make you powerless. On the contrary, using your voice in an appropriate way brings results over time. I believe in Margaret Mead’s sentiment, “Never doubt that a group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world, indeed it’s the only thing that ever has.” Our school system needs thoughtful, committed citizens to provide leadership on behalf of the community.
Saline School Board Election: Why Do You Want to Serve?