South Charlotte

For Union County School Board

Four candidates are seeking two at-large seats. Here are the candidates and their responses to the Observer's questions:

Laura Minsk

Age: 47

Address: 3616 Banyan Way, Waxhaw.

Family: Husband David, three sons ages 9-17.

Education: B.S., Cornell University; M.S., University of Minnesota.

Contact: 704-243-2025, info@electlauraminsk.com, www.electlauraminsk.com.

Elected offices held: None.

What is the one thing you've done as a leader that you're proudest of? “The leadership that I have provided my community and our county as an education advocate in the last five years. As a mother of three sons and a volunteer in Union County Public schools and as a former licensed teacher in our classrooms, I have led by example. Although I did not get elected when I ran for school board two years ago, I did not give up my commitment to serve our county. I continued to stay active in school board issues because parents and teachers in the community urged me to provide a voice for their concerns. I regularly attend most school board meetings and many committee meetings. In addition, I was appointed to and served on the Board of Education Monroe Middle School Task Force, as well as the Union County Education Foundation Steering Committee.”

Issues: “Work with county commissioners and administrators to reduce costs while ensuring adequate funding for our schools. Increase students' success through improved curriculum and increase our high school graduation rates. Continue to take a proactive approach with growth and building schools as needed. Address renovation/replacement of older schools as needed. Work with state officials to obtain a more equitable share of school funding.”

Why running: “I am running for the school board because I am passionate about education and know that I can provide insight and knowledge that will help our system become better. I am a product of the public education system and I value the importance of public education. I want to be part of ensuring that all children succeed through education.”

David Scholl

Age: 50.

Address: 4238 Shannamara Drive, Stallings.

Family: Wife Brenda; daughters Stephanie, 21, and Bridgette, 19

Occupation: Business technology consultant.

Education: B.S. in finance, Miami University, 1980; M.S. in instructional technology, East Carolina University College of Education, 2007.

Elected offices held: None.

Contact: David@scholl4schools.com, www.scholl4schools.com. 704-749-0832.

What is the one thing you've done as a leader that you're proudest of? “I led the school-board appointed steering committee in the formation of the Education Foundation for Union County.”

Issues: “Redistricting and neighborhood schools; I want to minimize redistricting effects on the students. Retaining and recruiting the best teachers. Conservative fiscal spending; help determine the needs versus the wishes.”

Why running: “I have a well-rounded background (see my Web site for details), and am able to think strategically and with a business-minded approach. I have done many roles in the schools, and feel that as a school board member I can directly help more students achieve their fullest potential. I enjoy watching and helping students succeed!”

J. Dennis Rape

Age: 54.

Address: 1417 Crown Forest Lane, Monroe.

Family: Wife Helen, daughters Vanessa Nicole, 28, and Megan Danielle, 24.

Occupation: Classroom teacher in N.C. public schools, career and technical education.

Education: Attended Wingate Junior College, 1972-1974. Graduate of Parkwood High School.

Elected offices held: None.

Contact: 704-283-4823, dennisrape@gmail.com, www.electdennisrape.com.

What is the one thing you've done as a leader that you're proudest of? “While teaching at the Union County Career Center, three fellow teachers and I along with 60-plus of our students built a Habitat for Humanity house with student labor. The kids knowing they would be able to tell their children they built a house for someone would be a lifelong reward.”

Issues: “To continue to meet the educational needs of the children of Union County in a responsible way. To enable teachers to do a better job at a lower stress level in the classroom by bringing about innovative ways and resources for their use. To financially reward our highly qualified teachers per their performance. To work to bring more job-specific CTE classes to the curriculum in Union County.”

Why running? “My passion is education and improving life by helping people become educated members of society. I want to be the classroom teacher's voice on the board.”

Solomon James Williamson

Age: 37.

Address: 5501 Fulton Ridge Drive, Indian Trail

Family: Wife Pamela Doctor Williamson; children Dennis, 16, Rajanee, 12, and Matthew, 9.

Occupation: Operates a Childcare and Development Center.

Education: B.S. in liberal studies, Wingate University.

Issues: “1) Renovating the existing structural. 2) Attracting well-qualified teachers to work in our most challenging areas of the county, as well as keep those that are in place now. 3) Overcrowded schools. We are in need of finding alternative solutions to dealing with this situation besides reassignment. 4) Community participation. 5) Test scores and student involvement.”

Why running? “I am running for the school board to become a positive asset to the Union County Association of Educators to assist in making changes that would be beneficial for our teachers, students, and community. Growing up I was reared by a single parent and those in our community (‘It takes a village to raise a child'). I believe that community plays a very important role in helping to make decisions for our schools. I would work with the community to get their concerns on the direction the board and the school system is going and what course of action should we take.”

Scott Heslink

Heslink has withdrawn from the race for a school board seat. However, his name still is listed on the ballot. He was running for one of the two at-large seats.

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