School Board District 5 candidates Jim Brown and Adam Toone will be on the ballot to take outgoing Board Member Neil Carrigan’s four-year seat. Browne and Toone will join District 3 candidates Gaylene Adams and Jennie Earl on the November ballot, along with Ronald Blunck, who is running uncontested in District 1.
Jim Brown, 52, is a political newcomer who understands government after retiring as a military colonel. He is now a self-employed insurance agent who has lived in Morgan County for over 20 years. All his children graduated from Morgan schools and his grandchildren are starting to enroll.
“I have a personal interest in the success of our students,” Brown said. “Throughout my 30-plus years of public service, I have experience serving and working with local, state, national and federal governments. I want to use my experience to improve the school district.”
The growth facing Morgan County, as well as how to fund it, is the school district’s biggest looming issue, Brown said.
“Growth places a major impact on our buildings, buses, teacher-to-student ratio and counselor-to-student ratio to name a few of the impacts,” he said. “I will look at the information already gathered, ask questions and continue to gather information and input from the different stake holders. In the end, we will have the best plan for our community. Then I will ensure we are transparent and communicate the findings to the entire community.”
Brown said he would make the best candidate for the office because he has the time to invest in the school district.
“I have held positions at the senior executive level. I have experience making strategic, tactical and operational decisions for large organizations. I have effectively managed appropriated funds,” Brown said.
If elected, he would seek to ensure that parents, teachers, administrators and constituents are all represented when decisions are made concerning budget and policy matters.
Adam Toone, 36, is a general contractor who has lived in Morgan County for over 30 years.
“As a father of five, I have a vested interest in the education of our children. My purpose for running is to promote the education and safety for not only my children, but the children of Morgan County,” Toone said. “I want to be a voice for the longstanding residents of the county, promote District 5’s unique demographic and culture, and establish a plan for a better future.”
Toone is also seeking public office for the first time, although he has held several appointed positions within the county including Morgan County Planning Commission from 2009-2013, member of the Morgan County General Plan Update Committee in 2016, Constitution Party county chair, precinct chairman, and county and state delegate.
Toone agrees with his opponent that growth and its funding is at the forefront of issues facing the school district.
“These issues directly correlate to our traffic and transportation concerns and overcrowded classrooms. How we approach those issues will mark the trailhead of generational consequences for Morgan County,” Toone said.
His approach to handle this issue includes fostering a sense of community ownership of schools and responsibility of education; facilitating a variety of ideas to address the current “crisis” of overcrowded classrooms, schools and outdated facilities; and approaching the state legislature for additional funding mediums to lessen the burden placed on those with fixed- and commodity-driving incomes.
Although he was hesitant to say that he was the best candidate, Toone said he has something unique to offer constituents.
“As a sixth-generation resident of Morgan County, I have extensive knowledge of the community’s history. By building upon and maintaining a pioneer community mindset, where we work together to create solutions, Morgan will continue to thrive,” Toone said. “Coming from an agricultural background, I have an understanding of the effect tax increases have on property owners and will seek for other sources of revenue for our schools. As a self-employed contractor, I will utilize my knowledge to brainstorm alternative ways to build and construct schools that are more cost effective and easier to maintain.”
If elected, Toone sees his primary responsibility as representing District 5 constituents. “To represent my constituents effectively, I will seek for their input, listen to their needs and concerns and play an active role in generating viable solutions,” Toone said. “I am logical, confident, and willing to explore other options than those that are currently in effect.”
For more information on these candidates, please see coverage of their debate that was published on the Sept. 23 edition. The debate covered the candidates’ stances on Common Core/learning standards, federal/state/local educational oversight, Morgan class sizes, if they support a proposed $26 million tax increase, what a school member’s job is, budget cuts, transportation, special education, and online/charter/home schools.