Editor’s note: The Urbana Daily Citizen surveyed candidates for the Graham Local Schools Board of Education. Six candidates are running for three seats, including Toni Kite, Leslie Maurice, Alan Mitchell, incumbent Ryan Pine, Brittany Todd and David Uhl. The Daily Citizen is printing the survey reports from the candidates in alphabetical order of the candidates’ names for six publication days. Answers for each question were limited to 100 words or less and some have been edited to conform. This is the final candidate profile. All profiles will appear on the Daily Citizen website next week.
I was asked to run by community members concerned about the direction the current board has taken on important issues. My wife, Miranda Uhl, has done an outstanding job as a board member but has been the minority position on some important decisions. It’s important for us to be part of the solution. With our hectic schedules we decided it would be better for me to run for the next term. I am a 1997 Graham graduate with degrees in Mechanical Engineering and Electrical Engineering from Kettering University; employed by GE Aviation. Married for 16 years and father of 4 Graham students.
1. What type of tax increase do you favor, if any, to address the district’s recurring operating money challenges?
Property tax. We have a population with diverse revenue streams and a property tax is the most equitable distribution of the burden. Additional tax should be considered only after we maximize use of existing revenue.
2. What caused the current financial problems, in your opinion?
We don’t have a problem, we have a challenge. Graham has had financial pressure for as long as we have been a consolidated district. We live in a conservative area where people value individuality and favor deciding how to allocate their resources rather than having government entities decide on their behalf. The Graham community has high expectations for utilization of funds and so it will always be of absolute importance to be honest and transparent about what money is being used for and how it provides value dollar-by-dollar.
3. What expenses would you prefer to reduce with or without any additional taxes being proposed?
Most important is to be good stewards of the community’s money regardless of how much we are allocated. We will start with funding the basics. We must get students to school safely. We must maximize student contact with educators. We must keep our focus on what is best for our students. Beyond the basics we need to use our limited funds to increase the quality of the education we can deliver and to make Graham a more competitive district among our peers.
4. What’s the top strength of Graham Local Schools?
Our community. We are a large rural district loosely connected with surrounding areas. We have people who go every direction out of the district for work but choose to live and raise families here because of this community. Graham schools is an important piece of this community and plays an important role in stitching our diversity together. We need to continue to partner with other groups in our community; churches, 4-H clubs, libraries, YMCAs and many others to provide the best experience for our youth and community.
5. What is the top weakness of Graham?
Listening. Listening to what our community, who speaks with many different voices, has to say and wants for our district. Listening to our students and parents about what is most important. And listening to our teachers and other professional educators who are completely dedicated to doing what is best for our youth.