Meet the 2023 Lawrence school board candidates

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Five Lawrence school board seats are going to be decided on Tuesday, Nov. 7. Meet the 12 candidates who are running to serve.

School board positions are unpaid and nonpartisan. Board members generally serve four-year terms, though this year’s election is a little different from most. One position is to fill out the remaining two years of the term of a former board member who resigned early into his term in 2022.


Here are the candidates who are running this year and their unedited answers to a few questions to get to know them.

Check out more of our election coverage, including stories on candidate forums, at

Jump to a question/section:

Briefly, why do you want to serve on the school board?
What do you think is the most pressing issue facing the district, and what solutions do you have to fix it?
Free space: What else do you want our readers to know ahead of the Aug. 1 primary election/Nov. 7 general election?
Just for fun

Meet the candidates actively running for the 2-year term:

We’re running these candidates’ answers first throughout because they face a primary election. One other candidate is no longer running for the seat, but her name will appear on the ballot.

Voters will select one candidate on their ballots to advance in the Tuesday, Aug. 1 primary. The top two vote recipients will appear on the Tuesday, Nov. 7 ballot.

Justine Burton

Pronouns: N/A
Age: N/A
Lived in Lawrence: I live in Eudora until 12, then moved to Lawrence, so I’m a lifer.
Best way to reach me: Email,
Website and/or social media links: N/A

Shannon Kimball (incumbent)

Pronouns: she/her
Age: 49
Lived in Lawrence: 18 years total – 15 years plus an additional 3 as an undergraduate at KU
Best way to reach me: Email,
Website and/or social media links:; Facebook, Shannon Kimball USD 497 Board of Ed; Twitter, @shannonlkimball

Ariel Miner

Pronouns: she/her
Age: 38
Lived in Lawrence: 14 years
Best way to reach me: Email,
Website and/or social media links: Facebook, Ariel Miner for USD 497 School Board; Facebook, Kansans United for Public Schools;

Meet the candidates running for the 4-year term:

There are four four-year terms up for election this year. These nine candidates will not have a primary election, and all will appear on the Nov. 7 ballot.

Carole Cadue-Blackwood (incumbent)

Pronouns: she/her
Age: 49
Lived in Lawrence: 45 years
Best way to reach me: Email,
Website and/or social media links:

Kevin Coronado

Pronouns: he/him
Age: 31
Lived in Lawrence: 3.5 years
Best way to reach me: Email,
Website and/or social media links:

Anne Costello

Pronouns: she/her
Age: 46
Lived in Lawrence: 16 years
Best way to reach me: Email,
Website and/or social media links:; Facebook, Anne Costello for School Board; Instagram, @annecostelloforschoolboard

Yolanda Franklin

Pronouns: she/her
Age: 49
Lived in Lawrence: 27 years
Best way to reach me: Email,
Website and/or social media links:

Edward Gonzales

Pronouns: he/him
Age: 39
Lived in Lawrence: 21 years
Best way to reach me: Email,
Website and/or social media links:

GR Gordon-Ross (incumbent)

Pronouns: he/him
Age: 48
Lived in Lawrence: 27 years
Best way to reach me: Email, or
Website and/or social media links: N/A

Jody Meyer

Pronouns: she/her
Age: 49
Lived in Lawrence: 29 years
Best way to reach me: Phone, 785-856-1735 and email,
Website and/or social media links: Facebook, Jody Meyer USD 497 School Board Candidate

Brandon Moore

Pronouns: he/him
Age: 40
Lived in Lawrence: We’ve lived in Lawrence for 6 years, but we have lived in the Lawrence area for 25 years.
Best way to reach me: Email,
Website and/or social media links: (includes links to social media)

Rachel Stumblingbear

Pronouns: she/her
Age: 39
Lived in Lawrence: 14 years
Best way to reach me: Email,
Website and/or social media links: N/A

Q: Briefly, why do you want to serve on the school board?

2-year term candidates:

Burton: The board needs a change and advocates for all of our youth. address the bullying in schools the inequalities. Recently, a talked with a 12-year-old young man about returning to school this year and he was not to thrilled as in the past school year he was called the N word and the situation was never addressed by the school. This is what causes some children when they get fed up with the bullying to lash out or start skipping school or worse. It is difficult to learn if this type of behavior is allowed.

Kimball: Lawrence families deserve a world-class public education no matter in which neighborhood they live. My work as a board member over the past dozen years has been focused on realizing that vision. Despite significant challenges, especially during the last five years, we have made progress for students and teachers. From facilities upgrades to expanding learning opportunities to increasing competitive pay for teachers and support staff to advocating for full funding of public schools and special education services for students—I have been focusing on accountability and creative solutions to our challenges.

We have to celebrate our progress while acknowledging that hard work remains to be done in achieving this vision for all. As a USD 497 parent and an engaged member of the Lawrence community, I will continue to use my extensive advocacy and leadership experience supporting public education and our locals schools to overcome the challenges that lie ahead, guided by meaningful input from district stakeholders to meet the needs of our students, staff, and families.

Miner: I grew up in Tonganoxie, Kansas, and as a graduate of Kansas Public Schools, am thrilled at the opportunity to serve them and give back in a meaningful way. I’m running for school board because I’m really worried about public education and I want to help our community. Last year I was a substitute teacher at the elementary, middle, and high school level. I saw first hand what it’s like to be in a classroom with 30 children, all with competing needs. This inside look helped me see how incredibly difficult the job is, what the challenges are and how leadership decisions impact the classroom. Children are our future and I think we need to do better for them. I’ve seen where the system works successfully and where it can be improved, and can bring that knowledge and first hand experience to governing. I’m helping to spearhead a movement, Kansans United for Public Schools, fighting for fully funded public education. My husband and I have four children attending Lawrence Public Schools, and our family is proud to be a part of this inclusive community.

4-year term candidates:

Cadue-Blackwood: I am privileged with having the honor of being the first Indigenous board to member to have attended Lawrence public schools, K-12. I wanted to give back to the community. My career and passion for public education grew as a stay-at-home mom while volunteering for The Willow Domestic Violence Center. I realized that “getting to the root” of unique systemic risk factors of health.

In 2019, I was elected to the Lawrence School Board on a platform to advocate for our vulnerable students, supporting mental health, building community partnerships, and improving outcomes. Since then, I have worked to improve public education in Lawrence, state wide as an education advocate. It is more important, now than ever, to defend our students to ensure they feel safe and supported.

During my time on the board I just believe that our board can become better educated in regards to making decisions that affect the whole community. The recent school closures will have a devastating impact on the vulnerable populations. The 2021 Douglas County Health and Equity Report revealed the need for attention to the social determinates of health for our community.

Coronado: I am seeking to serve on the school board because I want to serve our community as a resource and advocate for every student, family, and staff member. I have three kids currently in the USD 497 education system, and another who will attend when she’s old enough. I want to ensure their experience in this school district is a great one, as well as ensuring that every single student here has the opportunity for that same experience and to receive the highest quality education possible.

I think back on my own upbringing as a first-generation immigrant in the public school system with fondness, knowing that my teachers, administrators, and public servants had my best interests in mind. I believe that every single student and family in Lawrence deserve that same confidence in knowing that their school district leaders will always work for what is best for them, no matter where they come from, what they look like, or who they love.

Costello: As a parent and the wife of a teacher in the district, I know how decisions made by the school board can impact our students and staff. I want my kids to have as good of an education as I did, if not better. In the years leading up to now, I have been a member of our school’s PTA, even serving as treasurer for a year. I joined the school’s site council, the superintendent’s advisory board, the Lawrence Schools Foundation board and Future’s committee all as attempts to see firsthand what was happening in our district. Those positions only allowed me to see so much, and the level of impact I could have in those roles was not great. I am running so that I can have more of an active role in improving education for all of our students.

Franklin: I want to serve on the school board because I want to be apart of the change that needs to be done in how our children’s education is governed. With grandchildren in the district, I see the effect firsthand on how the recent decisions are affecting them. My grandchildren have IEP’s and behavioral issues, and to see them shuffled from school to school with no concern for their well being is outrageous. To see the decisions passed down to make LVS classrooms 63 students is ridiculous. How are the children learning? How are the teachers teaching. It’s time for a school board that not only take the students well being at heart, but the teachers and community as well.

Gonzales: I want to bring much needed change to the School Board. For a while now there is this thought that the board is working for the superintendent and not the other way around. I want a voice from the parents that currently have students enrolled in USD 497 as well as a voice that will be heard. I am not one to back down from a challenge and will be one that pushes for change in pay and overall work environments for our teachers. I believe we have the resources to do so and I want the teachers to know that I am working for them to improve their work/life balance.

Gordon-Ross: I am running for re-election for three main reasons. The first reason is to continue the good work we were able to accomplish with our two unions this past year and continue to support our staff as we fight to provide our staff a living wage, provide them the support they need and find ways to include them in our problem solving and continue to give them a seat at the table.

With the strategic plan coming up for renewal, I am eager to finish the original work we started when we created the plan 5 years ago that was derailed by Covid-19. We have made progress on our original goals for reading proficiency by 3rd grade and math proficiency by 8th grade, but we aren’t where we want to be. By ensuring strong foundational skills in these critical subjects, we empower our students to succeed in their future endeavors and equip them with the tools they need for a successful and fulfilling life beyond the classroom.

Lastly, I am supportive of projects related to my work on the Facilities Committee – solar and our new fiber network. Both provide cost savings to the district along with other intrinsic values like curriculum opportunities and the ability to close the digital divide.

Meyer: Significant changes need to be made to how our school district operates. Teachers are leaving this school district for more than just salary issues. We have turnover and inconsistent leadership within the schools. Discipline is a major problem. Teachers are micromanaged in their classrooms and yet can’t get any support for the discipline problems and other issues they face. Parents and the community are left in the dark about decisions that are being made. We have to stop blaming all our budget issues on the state and work efficiently and responsibly with the funds we have. We need to focus on the ABCs: Academics, Budget and Communication.

Moore: I feel that the current school board has not made the wisest decisions regarding our budget. The decisions they have made have often disproportionately impacted lower income families and made it harder for them to have access towards quality education. With the exits of former board members, rather than looking for the best candidate, the board decided to look for former board members that they wouldn’t have to help develop. I want to run for school board to help bring fresh ideas and a stronger emphasis on an appreciation for the arts. I believe that by strengthening these programs we will be able to create a more welcoming space for opportunity and learning within our schools.

Stumblingbear: I believe public education is one the central foundations of life for every person in our community. I want to ensure that our staff and faculty have the support and resources they need to accomplish their jobs. I want our students to be able to focus on learning. I want to help our community overcome the trauma of COVID-19. I want to ensure that our students have the life skills to deal with change now and in their future and to recognize the hope in their lives. 

Q: What do you think is the most pressing issue facing the district, and what solutions do you have to fix it?

2-year term candidates:

Burton: Decision’s that effect our community cannot be made in haste, so I would look at all sides before “fixing” solutions. However, I can say unequivocally that I would not allow privatization nor commercialization of our schools. I feel our kids are being used as pawns. I would also give teachers more control over their curriculum and increase their pay as well as increasing the pay of those who maintain our schools and freeze salaries for all administrators. I know that ship as already sailed but it will dock again.

Kimball: All of the most pressing challenges facing our students, staff, and families—closing opportunity gaps, teacher retention/recruitment, mental health supports, classroom behaviors and chronic absenteeism, and addressing the lingering effects of the pandemic—come back to a single overarching issue: how can the district best allocate limited resources to meet all these needs? I will work collaboratively, within the real budget constraints imposed by the legislature’s lack of commitment to public education funding, to balance these needs, to make budget and operational decisions that move the district forward in all these areas, and to hold the district accountable to the community and to the board’s strategic goals.

I have been doing this work, and the board has made progress on these challenges as a result of my leadership. Listening to what USD 497 staff have told the board in multiple independent surveys, I led the board’s work this year to make significant investments in teacher and classified staff pay. Last week, the board approved contracts representing the largest wage increases for both classified and certified staff in the past dozen years — and, quite likely, in the history of our district. With these increases, our teacher pay is more competitive with surrounding districts. Additionally, 68% of our classified staff will make at least $15 an hour in the 2023-24 school year. These historic improvements would not have happened without the sustained focus on teacher and support staff wages that I have brought to the board table over the past two years.

Miner: I believe the main issues facing our district are a lack of integrity in leadership, lack of financial transparency, policies and procedures that do not support democracy or public input, and unfair wages that drive instability in our workforce. Because of the big issues our community and students face like poverty, discrimination, underfunded schools, inadequate healthcare, income inequality, and unaffordable housing we must care for each other by looking for the most equitable solutions. True equity would mean fair wages, standing up for marginalized students instead of closing their schools, and leaders who direct our public dollars to our students, staff, and teachers instead of to consultants and out of state companies. Integrity in leadership would go a long way in stabilizing our workforce. Our teachers, principals, and staff are leaving for reasons beyond pay. We need regular public town halls. We have to do the work to prevent the departures and that means creating a culture where the staff feels comfortable speaking out. We need to implement policies that ensure complete transparency in district finances and budget documents. The community should know how every public dollar is spent, especially during a budget crisis with school closures. 32% of classified staff make under $15 an hour. That means approximately 166 staff members that work alongside our children everyday do not make enough money to live in our community where the living wage is $16.04 for a single person. This is not acceptable.

4-year term candidates:

Cadue-Blackwood: Budget Accountability and Transparency: I would advocate for quarterly board retreats, or have the budget director, provide trainings. I would like to be able to have an opportunity for myself and fellow board members to do in-depth studies of school board finance. I would put a halt on the financial drain on consultants. Lawrence has a great community of involved stakeholders that would be able to provide input on a budget process that includes an equity lens and adequate for all schools.

Racial and Social Justice: USD 497 must systematically use a race, gender, and sexuality equity lens in determining all aspects of the district program, including policies, curricula, personnel practices, budgeting. Our decisions should include a student-centered approach that affirms their strengths, their challenges, and their experiences while upholding and enforcing the Gannon v. Kansas decision.

Affordable Housing and Community Partners: USD 497 must work in partnership with community nonprofits and other business partners to develop unused public land to build affordable and workforce housing for our community. The district and community can flourish when we have a living wage, health care, and stable retirement plans that our staff deserves. Our classified staff is the backbone of every public school.

They were our unsung heroes during the pandemic. This district can continue to work to maintain the metric for food, school supply, laundry facilities, and mental health supports for our families by continuing the work of working with partners.

Coronado: I believe the most pressing issue facing our district is the inaction in resolving the various issues we currently see. One of those is the exodus of families and educators from our schools. As public trust has eroded in our district’s leadership, parents and students have chosen to leave USD 497 for nearby communities, with many choosing to leave the public school system altogether. This has only worsened with the recent closures of our beloved neighborhood schools.

We must work to build back the community’s trust in leadership by electing board members who operate openly and transparently. We have to reassure folks that there is no hidden agenda, that all community input is taken into consideration, and that the members of the board are truly looking out for the best for all of our students, teachers, and staff. We must also bring our staff to at least the standard living wage of $16.04 per hour, and ensure that wages keep up with inflation.

We must also work to protect our most marginalized students and staff. This includes ensuring policies are in place at the district level as well at the local-school level to protect our LGBTQIA+ students and staff in a way that honors their Constitutional rights.

We must protect our immigrant and impoverished populations, providing kids with healthy meals as often as we are able to do so, and assuring each student has the resources to accomplish their school work. Whether in our school buildings or in their homes, students must be allowed the opportunity to learn and be nourished, no matter their family’s socio-economic standing.”

Costello: Low pay, challenging school environments coupled with a need for more recognition and professional development all make it hard to recruit and retain great staff. We need to offer competitive pay to our teachers and a living wage for our classified staff. This means digging in to the budget to see where there could be potential savings. The ability to fund contingency positions that allow us to plug staff in where needed in order to reduce class size is important. I have heard directly from some teachers that a reduction is class size is more important to them than a raise. Their effectiveness as teachers decreases when there are 30+ students in a class. Hopefully by paying a living wage, we can increase the number of paras we have in classrooms to provide extra support as well. We also need to provide greater supports for mental health. We need to create outlets for teachers, staff and school leaders to be able to ask questions and voice concerns without fear of repercussions. Fostering collaborative and positive cultures in our schools and ESC is important. We should take what the more satisfied schools in district surveys are doing differently and see if we can we learn from them and implement elsewhere. Workloads also need to be evaluated. Anything that does not directly impact students and learning should go away if possible. Lastly, student behavior has become more challenging to manage post-pandemic. We need to provide more supports to teachers and staff to help them. We need to provide parents or the community at large more resources to aid in this endeavor.

Franklin: The most pressing issues now are closings and class sizes. We need to utilize the free spaces that we currently have in some of the buildings that we are using and the others that are going unused. I believe our education starts from the head start and up. So we need to provide the Head Start/ Early Childhood Program with the correct facilities to begin our education process. We also need to create a surplus for the teachers to have access to for school supplies. That can be done by utilizing the Rainy Day Fund given by the State. With that funding, we can cut down the cost of what teachers are spending of their own money, to purchase much needed supplies.

Gonzales: Currently we have a huge divide in why are teachers are leaving the district and many believe it to be money. After speaking with many teachers the amount of work without proper tools to be successful is the case. I plan on offering additional resources by condensing the administration so we can afford to give the teachers what they need to help restore their work life balance. Also with these funds freed can give them an additional wage increase to be more competitive in todays market. Teachers have to be paid in relation to what we are paying our administration. With several members making well over 100k a year we are holding them higher than the people we have in charge of our children. This is a complete inverse of what we need. Teachers need to be shown they matter at the same level as our administration if not better. By removing raises to administration and condensing retirement funds in the members making well over 100K this will allow us to have more funds to spread out. In addition we can use some of the buildings we have around the district for admin use or other uses. This could free us to selling the current admin building or renting it out so we can get some additional funding to the district. There are options that we have we just need to be more decisive in our decisions to get to the correct idea on how to run the district.

Gordon-Ross: In my bid for re-election, I am committed to addressing pressing issues facing our school district. By aligning efforts with the Strategic Plan, enhancing staff benefits, and pursuing innovative solutions, we can drive progress, improve educational experiences, and close the digital gap. These three key points will form the foundation of my campaign.

Creating the next 5-year Strategic Plan is crucial. We must build upon progress and ensure our actions align with the plan’s goals. This includes reevaluating district-level committees to sync with new objectives, effectively tracking and achieving milestones for a better future.

Recruitment and retention of staff are a top priority. We must explore alternative approaches to enhance benefits and job satisfaction, such as reevaluating how we calculate leave value. Involving staff in problem-solving can improve outcomes, prioritizing well-being and support.

To meet evolving district needs, we must embrace innovative solutions. Projects like solar energy and the fiber network reduce costs and provide educational opportunities. Extending wireless connectivity aims to narrow the digital divide and ensure high-speed internet access at home. Through these initiatives, we foster a progressive educational environment.

Meyer: It’s difficult to pick just one but the projected loss of enrollment of students (and the loss of students the last few years) is a major issue. We want families to choose Lawrence as the place they want to raise and educate their children and that is simply not the case right now. We need to make this school district attractive to families again. Declining enrollment will lead to continue budget issues, loss of good teachers and potentially additional closed schools which I don’t think anyone wants. Just as pressing is the need to focus on academics. As a substitute teacher in USD 497, I have seen the learning and social skills loss from the school closures/online learning experience during the pandemic as well as having a child who experienced such loss.

Moore: I feel that the biggest issue pressing the district is the mass exodus of teachers and administrators. In my years as a multi unit manager, I’ve noticed that the stores with the highest turnover rates often have a cultural problem within the store. When you focus on the culture of a store and help everybody feel important, understood, and energized, then you alleviate the issue of mass exits. With a strong culture, you gain stronger staff retention. I am opposed to hiring third party consultants to find out what our teachers and building administrators need. We need to be able to sit down with these teachers and administrators to have these conversations to better understand their needs. We have seen so many fantastic educators leave our schools, and have had issues with retaining administrators at several schools as well. I firmly believe that if we can fix the culture of our schools, then we will be able to create an environment where all of our staff feels secure, and as if the board is working with them rather than against them.

Stumblingbear: Our most pressing issue is how the community views the school district. Unfortunately due to lack of funding from the state, our school board has had to make tough choices the past few years that have overshadowed all the good that our staff is doing. I think a bigger emphasis needs to be made about the programs that are helping our students and families. This can be through press releases, reports to the school board, newsletters to parents, and partnering with community organizations. If we do not talk about what our staff and students do, the community at large will not know about it. 

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Q: Free space: What else do you want our readers to know ahead of the Aug. 1 primary election/Nov. 7 general election?

(We did not require an answer to this question.)

2-year term candidates:

Burton: (skipped)

Kimball: Because of my leadership on the board, USD 497 has achieved historic wage increases for teachers and support staff; reached its highest graduation rate in 10 years; adopted its first 5-year strategic plan; protected LGBTQ+ students and staff against bullying and discrimination; created the award-winning College & Career Academy; moved to harness solar energy savings and to close the digital divide for our students; created Kansas’s first public Montessori school; and provided all students and staff with safe, high quality learning and working environments.

Moving forward, I will continue to focus on accountability and creative solutions to our challenges. I will build upon our recent wage increases so that USD 497 staff choose to stay in our district. Keeping our great teachers and staff is the most impactful thing we can do to support students. I will lead the board in renewing the district’s multi-year strategic plan. We must start working now on our community’s vision for our schools through 2030. Finally, I will continue leading on equity. As our legislature passes laws harming public schools and bullying vulnerable and marginalized students, I will push back strongly. I will continue fighting to fully fund special education and advocating for increased PK-12 funding so that our students can succeed.

Now is not the time to back away from this difficult, essential work. I am a proven, consistent, dedicated, and effective member of the USD 497 board and I will continue putting my extensive experience to work for the benefit of our students, families, staff, and community.

Miner: I truly believe public education is the bedrock of our democracy and that we can transform our district if we work together. There is a major push across our country to privatize education which would only pull more dollars from already struggling public schools. These efforts are sometimes subtle and I think we need to ensure district decisions are representative of what the Lawrence community truly wants for our public schools. My vision is for our children to receive an equitable, high quality education no matter what school they attend in USD 497. It will take a majority on the board willing to do the work-directing our public dollars to our public schools, students, and teachers in the most equitable way possible. A few qualities of a high-functioning board listed in the governing manual of USD 497 is “Board operates in the open, involves community in decision making.” The community had no opportunity to be involved in the recent extension of the superintendent’s contract which is arguably the most important decision made by a school board. The contract was not even posted for public viewing until moments before it was up for a vote. This diminishes community trust in board leadership and is a sign of a very dysfunctional board. I would like to help find long term solutions to budget and organizational difficulties that don’t harm our community and put students, teachers, and staff first.

4-year term candidates:

Cadue-Blackwood: I’m running as an incumbent in the town where I grew up and want to give back to this great community that has given me and my family so much. I am married to my high school sweetheart and we have three adult children. All five of us have graduated from Lawrence High School.

My parents moved to Lawrence in 1978 for the schools. My parents have both fostered my commitment to service and community. My Dad and my husband are both veterans of the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Army respectively. I decided to take the leap and run for school board because I felt like it was my turn to serve.

My mother was the catalyst for me deciding to go into social work after several years as a stay-at-home mom.I now hold an associate’s degree from Haskell Indian Nations University, a bachelor’s degree in political science from The University of Kansas, and a Master’s in Social Welfare from the University Kansas.

As an educator activist, I continue to support and defend public schools through providing testimony against using taxpayer dollars to fund private schools. I was also appointed by Governor Laura Kelly to serve on the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Committee to promote restorative justice. I will continue to listen, and uplift community voices at the school board or at the Kansas statehouse.

Racial and social justice/equity in USD 497 has always been a focus in my family. When students learn from a culturally relevant curriculum they do better and feel better about themselves. Every student should receive nothing less than the highest quality education.

Coronado: I believe it is imperative that Lawrence students, families, and teachers are aware that people are supporting them. I am proudly helping spearhead Kansans United for Public Schools, a new grassroots organization that is fighting for the school district that all of our students deserve.

Our goal is simple: to save Kansas schools by working alongside families, staff, teachers, parents, students, and the community to build a statewide movement for fully funded public education for all students across Kansas, and our work begins here, in USD 497. We plan to work tirelessly to address the problems in our district by developing creative solutions that center around our students, their families, and our school staff.

We know we can’t help solve our district’s funding crisis without striving to fix the Kansas school funding formula and fully funding special education. We know our goal is lofty. After all, we want neighborhood schools that are also community schools.

We want small class sizes. We demand more resources for our special education students. And we will not rest until we can ensure competitive teacher pay and living wages for our classified staff. Myself, Carole Cadue-Blackwood, Yolanda Franklin, and Ariel Miner are supporting Kansans United for Public Schools, and they are supporting us for school board.

Our community should also be aware of the upcoming primary election on Tuesday, August 1st, and that Ariel Miner is a candidate in that election. If you want to see this vision of public schools for all be made a reality, please get out and vote.

Costello: I am hoping we can start to put more focus back on student achievement. In particular, we need to work on closing the gap for students of color, students from low-income households and students in special education. It is not just enough that we raise achievement for all, we must to close this gap. There are several ways we can try to do this. Parental involvement has a strong direct, impact on student achievement. We need to foster closer cooperation between schools and parents/care-givers. The district is implementing a new social-emotional learning curriculum. I am hopeful about its impact on achievement. Social and emotional skills like critical thinking, creativity, problem-solving, and self-control are key to academic learning and broader child development. Lastly, we must demand that Topeka fund our schools. When adjusted for inflation, the base aid per pupil is less than what it was in 1992. When special education is not funded at the statutorily required level, we must take money out of our general fund to cover the shortfall. These general fund dollars could be spent on retaining and recruiting great teachers as well as in support in closing the achievement gap. Reversing the decline in enrollment, is vital to our district. Montessori and magnet schools can only do so much to attract families when there is a shortage of affordable housing. Be it board members working with the city commission or in some other form, the district and the city should work together regularly to develop strategic initiatives with the goal of drawing more families to the district.

Franklin: I would like you to know that I want to create a Community Review Board that works with the School Board. This board would be comprised of you, the community. This board would be the liaison to the School Board. We will work together on the decisions made for our children. We will be available to the community openly, and not just accessible via unanswered emails, non returnable phone calls. I want to be a School Board Member for the community. The same ones that elected me in. Transparency is key to getting the School Board that Lawrence needs.

Gonzales: I may not be the best candidate out there today but I am the one willing to fight for our children and our teachers. I do not believe all sectors of the current system are pulling their weight and we need members that are passionate enough to make a difference. A win to me is not a solo victory but one that is for all us Parents, Grandparents, and families in the district. My campaign does not end with a victory but continues by getting ideas from the community on how to continuously run the district. By electing myself you are getting your voice in every meeting and decision whether or not you are present.

Gordon-Ross: As you head to the polls to vote in the Primary, I would ask you to keep the following ideals in mind as you decide whom to vote for. Serving on the school board demands unwavering dedication, considerable investment of time and energy. It transcends mere attendance at bi-monthly meetings, necessitating a comprehensive understanding of the challenges faced by our district. While many individuals may readily voice concerns about the state of our education system, it is crucial to seek candidates who not only identify these issues but also present tangible, pragmatic solutions. Merely criticizing the actions of the current board and administration is a simplistic approach. What distinguishes a candidate’s merit is their ability to articulate specific alternatives and demonstrate a comprehensive grasp of the feasibility of their proposals. Your vote should be cast in favor of those who provide substantive and well-thought-out strategies to address the district’s needs.

Meyer: I have been a practicing attorney in Lawrence for 22 years focusing on family law, child in need of care, juvenile offender and other child related issues such as special education advocacy for parents. I obtained a substitute teaching license during Covid and have been a substitute in USD 497 for two years. I have three children (20, 18, and 16) who went to and are going to Broken Arrow, Billy Mills and Lawrence High School, two of whom will be STEM majors at KU in the fall. I have been involved in their school’s parent teacher organizations and site council at the middle school level. I previously was on the board of Tiny-K and am currently on the City of Lawrence Historic Resources Commission. I was also on the HRC for two terms back in the last 2000s. I have been on the Douglas County Law Library Board of Trustees, am a Past-President of the Douglas County Bar Association, am a Past-President and current President-Elect of the Kansas Bar Association’s Family Law Section.

Moore: I took a lot of time deciding whether or not I should run for the board, because I do not take running for the school board lightly. I want to bring forward new, fresh ideas to the board rather than the same rehashed ideas that never seem to pan out. I want new faces and people from diversified backgrounds to join the board rather than previous members who have failed to provide any substantial new ideas to the board. They are culpable for many of the problems we currently face. In my experience over the years managing multiple teams across multiple companies I have found that the one constant in underperforming stores is a cultural problem. And usually fresh ideas or new leadership is the spark it takes to fix it. I want to restore the great culture that our schools once had and provide each and every staff member with the resources they need to thrive. With the combined efforts of new faces and experienced minds, I believe that we can make the board more accessible to everyone. For all of the reasons I have stated, I believe that I would be an excellent candidate for the board, and I hope to have your vote this November.

Stumblingbear: I believe learning is a life skill that is gained during our student years, which is why this time is so precious. Gaining this skill sets us up to continue to be open to new ideas and new approaches to life as we grow older. It helps us to try new things and experiment. Becoming lifelong learners opens up the world for each of us.

Before I went back to school in 2018 I thought that I could only learn in a traditional model style class room. Lecture room with a teacher up front. I took a chance on a program that was primarily online and found that I loved learning in that asynchronous style as well with classmates across the United States. I experimented and thrived. I earned my Masters in Library and Information Science. 

Just for fun

We did not require candidates to answer these questions to participate, but readers have enjoyed a chance to get to know their candidates on a slightly more personal level through our questionnaires in previous elections.

Favorite color?

2-year term candidates:

Burton: I don’t have a favorite color
Kimball: Green
Miner: Green

4-year term candidates:

Cadue-Blackwood: Purple
Coronado: Blue
Costello: Red
Franklin: Green
Gonzales: Crimson and Blue (RCJH)
Gordon-Ross: Purple
Meyer: Red
Moore: Blue
Stumblingbear: Green – every shade

Favorite food?

2-year term candidates:

Burton: I just like food no favorite.
Kimball: Dark chocolate
Miner: French fries

4-year term candidates:

Cadue-Blackwood: Salmon
Coronado: Anything from Burger Stand!
Costello: Street tacos
Franklin: Pasta
Gonzales: Enchiladas
Gordon-Ross: BBQ
Meyer: Italian
Moore: A good steak dinner.
Stumblingbear: Caramel

Astrological sign?

2-year term candidates:

Burton: Virgo
Kimball: Virgo
Miner: Scorpio

4-year term candidates:

Cadue-Blackwood: Sagittarius
Coronado: Gemini
Costello: Aries
Franklin: Taurus
Gonzales: Taurus
Gordon-Ross: Libra
Meyer: Sagittarius
Moore: (skipped)
Stumblingbear: Aries

Favorite pastime?

2-year term candidates:

Burton: Driving
Kimball: Traveling with my family
Miner: Reading

4-year term candidates:

Cadue-Blackwood: Jigsaw puzzles
Coronado: Playing music
Costello: I love reading and listening to podcasts and music.
Franklin: Reading
Gonzales: Videogames with my kids
Gordon-Ross: Being actively involved in whatever my kids are doing.
Meyer: Doing things outside.
Moore: Spending time with my 3 dogs and 2 children.
Stumblingbear: (skipped)

Random fun fact about you?

2-year term candidates:

Burton: N/A
Kimball: I grew up on a small family farm in western Kansas, so as a teenager I learned to drive a manual transmission in a 1960’s-era Chevy wheat hauling truck.
Miner: I can stand on my tip toes like Rose from Titanic.

4-year term candidates:

Cadue-Blackwood: I am the first Native American Board of Education member to have attended USD 497, K-12.
Coronado: I studied Viola Performance in College!
Costello: Two of my dogs are named after characters on Parks and Rec, Ron Swanson and Bobby Newport.
Franklin: I have 3 grandsons that share the same birthday, but are not triplets.
Gonzales: I am a nerd of all traits. I love to research new technology and try to apply them to my everyday life. Chances are I know of something that can help you too.
Gordon-Ross: I’m a licensed pyrotechnician and have done professional fireworks shows for over 10 years.
Meyer: I can bend my fingers all the way to the back of my hand.
Moore: I was able to travel all over the country with the Kansas Lions Club Band during high school, which gave me my great appreciation for the arts.
Stumblingbear: I was a judge for the Self-Published Science Fiction Contest.

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Meet a candidate for Kansas House District 10

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Suzanne Wikle is running as a Democrat to represent mostly southeastern parts of Lawrence in Kansas House District 10. Wikle (rhymes with Michael) shared her background in policy and advocacy, plus her views on child care, affordable health care and more.


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