Quincy School Board candidates, incumbents show differences at forum

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Video provided by Randy Industries.

QUINCY — A packed house turned out to watch and listen to six of the seven candidates for Quincy School Board discuss why they wanted the public’s votes on April 4.

Incumbents Shelley Arns, Jim Whitfield and LaTonya Brock, who are campaigning as one slate of candidates, appeared along with three challengers also running together — Tory Kaufmann, Jeremy Allen and Ashley Randolph.

Another non-incumbent, Curtis Sethaler, whose campaign signs are in the same design as the incumbents, did not attend, citing a scheduling conflict that took him out of Quincy.

Each candidate gave opening and closing statements and took submitted questions from the audience and a panel of media representatives including Rich Cain of KHQA-TV, Makenzi Henderson of WGEM-TV and David Adam, editor of Muddy River News.

The first question was what each candidate believed was the “top issue” facing the Quincy School district. Their answers were:

  • Arns-Chronic absenteeism
  • Whitfield-Teacher retention
  • Kaufmann-Spending priorities
  • Brock-Discipline
  • Allen-Rate of support staff turnover
  • Randolph-Fiscal responsibility

One issue that came up frequently was the politicization of what is considered a non-partisan election, as school board races are.

Allen, Randolph and Kaufmann have received endorsements from Republican political candidates and office holders, but no financial support. The Illinois Democratic Party has also pledged to get involved in local school board races, but all of the candidates said they have received no funding from any political party.

When the issue of transparency came up, the incumbents agreed they felt the board had been transparent. Arns said all district financials and meeting documents are online, Whitfield said communication was the key to transparency and Brock said transparency can be perceived differently, but board members cannot act on certain issues and they have to let the administrators do their jobs.

Allen and Kaufmann both said the board wasn’t transparent and cited an unwillingness by the board to engage with the public during meetings, especially the ones that occurred during and after the pandemic. Both men spoke at board meetings and felt the board didn’t listen or respond to their concerns.

All candidates also said they would not support banning books in school libraries.

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