Parents group to hold D-26 forum

CARY – A parents group that has questioned decisions by District 26 in the past will host an election forum this week.

District 26 Parents with a Voice has scheduled an election forum Tuesday at the Cary Pub, 208 W. Main St., that will feature candidates running for the District 26 school board in the April election.

Ken Hillman, who runs the District 26 Parents with a Voice Facebook page, will be the moderator.

Of the nine candidates running for the board’s four available seats, five have confirmed that they will attend the forum: current school board member Chris Jenner, Scott Epstein, Jennifer Crick, Bruce Ritter and Bradley Slavik.

Current school board member Floyd Myers has declined because of medical reasons as he recovers from hip surgery.

Josh Howell will not attend but will have a statement read on his behalf. Chris Christensen is tentatively scheduled to attend.

Incumbent Julie Jette told the Northwest Herald that she does not plan to attend.

Jette said people are entitled to their opinions, but she does not like the negative comments against the district that are posted on the Parents With a Voice Facebook page.

“I don’t feel it’s in my best interest to open myself up to [Hillman] being nasty to me,” Jette said.

“Conducting a discussion for candidates for school board in a bar is kind of odd,” Jette added.

District 26 Parents with a Voice is a group of concerned community members, stakeholders, and parents who are trying to bring about positive change in the school district, according to its website. It has questioned school district decisions in the recent years.

Hillman said, however, the primary objective of the forum is for people to learn about the issues facing the district.

Audience members will be able to ask questions.

“We’ll either answer them or try to get an answer and follow up,” Hillman said.

The secondary objective will be to get know the candidates running, he said.

Hillman said he will do his best to make the candidates feel comfortable.

“I personally believe I have an obligation to setting this up to be fair to any candidate who wants to show up,” he said.

“It’s an opportunity to get to know them and see what they stand for,” Hillman added.

However, Hillman has endorsed three candidates: Epstein, Crick and Ritter. Hillman said those three candidates have taken the time to explain their positions and what direction they would like to go.

“I believe my passion to create an active and knowledgeable community with a voice that helps create the type of necessary change we need far exceeds my desire to have ‘my guys’ win and as such I think it is important to have the community exposed to as many new candidates as possible,” Hillman wrote in an email promoting the event.

Hillman said in emails inviting the public to the forum that the event would be more on the issues, but will be an opportunity for candidates to introduce themselves.

“I really want it to something for people comfortable going to,” Hillman said. “This is for them.”

If you go

What: District 26 Parents with a Voice Election Forum

When: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday

Where: Cary Pub at 208 W. Main St.

Cost: The event is free.

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