Every student represents an opportunity to better our city and its future. Every vote in a school board election presents an opportunity to demonstrate our individual and collective commitment to helping students reach their potential. Oklahoma voters will go to the polls next Tuesday to choose members of their local school boards. The stakes are particularly high in Oklahoma City, with three seats on the ballot.
Oklahoma City Public Schools is the only district in the state where voters have the power to choose a chairman, a power that's relatively new. Cliff Hudson was the first board chairman. He twice ran unopposed. Former Mayor Kirk Humphreys served in an appointed capacity to complete the last year of Hudson's second term. The only contested board chair election occurred four years ago, when former state Sen. Angela Monson unseated Humphreys.
Central to Oklahoma City's progress and celebrated renaissance is the health of its schools. More than 137,000 are eligible to vote in Oklahoma City Public Schools' board elections. Yet in the last election for Oklahoma City School Board chair, only about 11,200 people — or 8 percent of eligible voters — cast a ballot. As a city, we can do better. We must do better.
This year, local business owner Lynne Hardin is challenging Monson in the chairman's race. Bob Hammack and E. Jann Maultsby are contesting the District 1 seat. District 2 incumbent Gail Vines has endorsed her opponent, Justin Ellis, even as her name remains on the ballot. The last time the seats for Districts 1 and 2 were contested, fewer than 10 percent of eligible voters cast a vote.