Post updated at 8:06 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 30:
Lawrence school board members on Tuesday selected GR Gordon-Ross to fill the seventh seat on the board, which has been vacant since mid-July.
Board members heard from the three candidates, then deliberated for a few minutes before taking a ranked vote.
The other two candidates who were interviewed Tuesday were Anne Costello and Clint Ramirez Stephens.
Board Vice President Paula Smith said she found it difficult to make a choice as all three candidates gave strong answers to all six questions the board members had asked them.
“I feel like I’ve learned something new from each of the candidates before us,” Smith said.
Board President Shannon Kimball said she, too, saw strengths in all three candidates, and that the decision was going to be difficult.
Board member Kelly Jones thanked all three candidates and said she’d be happy to serve with any of the three, and board member Carole Cadue-Blackwood said she admired their dedication and passion.
“I really want to thank you wholeheartedly, and I appreciate your willingness to step up and answer the call because this is not an easy job,” Cadue-Blackwood said.
Ultimately, Gordon-Ross received four first-place votes from board members.
He previously served on the board from 2018 through January of this year. He was not reelected in November 2021, however — he came in fourth place out of a field of six candidates where the top three would take office. Gordon-Ross was about 300 votes behind Andrew Nussbaum, who resigned from the board last month.
Tuesday evening, Gordon-Ross said he was “humbled, honored and excited all at the same time.” He said he feels like he’ll be able to step right back into the scene without losing a whole lot because he’s stayed as involved and as active as he could be, attending almost every board meeting since his term ended.
Gordon-Ross said he thinks public education is important work, and the board has heavy, hard work in front of it — “and it’s work that needs to get done.”
“I feel like I have something still left to contribute to that work, and I’m willing to put in the effort and the work and the time and the energy and to do the work and to represent the community as best as I can,” he said.
“I think it’s important to represent the entire community, as best as I can,” he continued. “I think there are times that single voices or single groups try to out try to overpower the entire community, and I think it’s important that the voices at the board table speak and represent the entire community as a whole. I think that’s something that I was able to do during my past board service, and it’s something that I plan to continue to do, because I think that’s an important job of a board member, to represent the entire community — every voice that has something to say.”
Gordon-Ross will be sworn in at the board’s next meeting on Monday, Sept. 12, and he will serve until January 2024. As part of his application, he told the board that he would commit to running for the seat in the next election.
Ramirez Stephens received a first-place vote from Board Past President Erica Hill, and Costello received a first-place vote from Cadue-Blackwood.
Voters will next have an opportunity to weigh in during the November 2023 general election, when five total board seats will be on the ballot.
Amy McVey, who had applied and received three votes last week to advance to the interview round, had to withdraw her name from consideration. Kimball said between the last board meeting and Tuesday’s, McVey had been in an accident and suffered a serious injury to her ankle.
“She’s facing several months of recovery and did not feel that she would be able to fully fulfill the obligations of board service as a result of her health situation,” Kimball said. “I want to extend my thanks to her for participating in the process, and also my best wishes on a speedy recovery, and it’s unfortunate. I’m sorry that she had that experience.”
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Mackenzie Clark (she/her), reporter/founder of The Lawrence Times, can be reached at mclark (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Read more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.