One of the most frustrating things for me, as an elected official, was when people would call me up and tell me how much they agreed with the position I'd taken, how much they supported my efforts on an issue and how they thought I was on the right path. However, being in the minority, I would always ask if they'd be willing to stand with me on the issue. Invariably, the answer was no. They were willing for me to take a stand, and willing to let me know they agreed with me, but they weren't willing to offer themselves - or their support - in public.
I understand why many took such a position, but always felt that until such individuals were willing to make public their private convictions, the area would not move forward.
About three months ago, I was approached by several individuals who were frustrated with the Toledo Public Schools and the Board of Education. Some of these people had been 'fighting the good fight' with the school system for a long time...others only recently reached a level of frustration that sparked their involvement. What was different about these people was their willingness to publicly pronounce their dissatisfaction and to take the next step to become politically involved in electing individuals who would be more accountable to the taxpayers, parents and children.
They asked me if I would join them in their efforts, lending my successful campaigning experiences to their group. I was impressed with the dedication they showed, their willingness to step forward and their commitment to a good school board member and not to any special interests. So I said yes.
This group doesn't have a name, it doesn't have a leader, but it does have a mission: to elect two new school board members this fall. The group has people from all walks of life - business, community groups, teachers, parents. It has no political bent - there are Republicans, Democrats and Independents. Who we are, or what party we belong to, is not important within this group because we share a common goal of excellence in our school board and we're all willing to set aside our partisan or social or philosophical differences in order to achieve this objective.
Lisa Renee of Glass City Jungle is also a member and has her own post...asked to join because of her extensive experience in blogging and internet outreach. Together, today we are announcing our reasons for joining our fellow citizens in this endeavor and are inviting those of you who may share in this goal to join us.
The most critical thing that any group can do is to define what they are trying to accomplish. While this citizen group has many interests, we wanted to all be on the same page when it came to supporting individuals for the school board. So we developed a job description for TPS School Board Member.
Interestingly, there wasn't one available, despite the many responsibilities. We enhanced the job description by creating a list of characteristics or attributes we all believed would be ideal in a candidate. We realize that one person may not have everything on our list or all the qualifications we seek, but creating the list and the job description gives us the starting point for making a good decision about whom we should back in the upcoming election. The job description and list are available here.
To have any group of 30-40 agree on a job description may seem unlikely, but we did. We approached this from the perspective of hiring a person to do a job for us and before we got into the hiring aspect, we had to clearly define the job to ensure the candidate would meet the needs. We want you to look at the job description and see if you agree.
We've invited all the known candidates for school board to answer a simple questionnaire and to interview with several individuals for an endorsement. With our endorsement comes volunteers, fundraising, campaign strategy, coordinated p.r., introductions within our various realms of participation (clubs/organizations/etc) and other campaign support, including research on the various issues facing TPS.
Our first public event is a fundraiser Friday, April 13, 2007 from 6:00-9:00 p.m. at the The Distillery - 4311 Heatherdowns Blvd. The suggested donation of $20 includes: a coupon for a 16 oz draft beer, unlimited soft drinks, wings, pizza, veggies, and other snack foods. Additional draft beer is $1; imported or domestic beer and mixed drinks will be available at regular prices.
If you'd like to know more about this unique group, or see who's involved, please join us on the 13th...and stay turned to ThurbersThoughts and GlassCityJungle for updates.