July 9, 2008

Six Declare Candidacy in School Board Race

By Justin Vick, Independent Tribune, Concord, N.C.

Jul. 8--CONCORD -- The Cabarrus County Board of Education ballot has begun to take shape, as four familiar faces and two political newcomers filed for candidacy on Monday.

Incumbents Holly Blackwelder and Cindy Fertenbaugh will seek re-election, while previous challengers Lew Davidson and David Harrison will campaign once again. Newcomers Dr. Jan van Ravesteyn and Robert Tizon are also running.

Five of seven school board seats are up for grabs in the Nov. 4 election, with the fifth-place finisher earning the two remaining years of Liz Poole's recently vacated term. Poole resigned last month to teach in Cabarrus County Schools.

At least one other seat will go to a newcomer, since Lynn Shue recently told the Independent Tribune he wouldn't seek a third term on the board. Wayne Williams' term is also expiring, but the retired educator has not yet revealed whether he plans to run again.

Seeking re-election was not a hard decision for Blackwelder or Fertenbaugh.

In fact, Fertenbaugh was the first person to file for the race. She arrived at the Board of Elections office about 15 minutes prior to the office opening its doors.

Fertenbaugh, 50, of Concord, said she still has a passion for supporting public schools after nearly 10 years of school board service.

"I actually have more time to spend on the board now that my kids are older and off to college," Fertenbaugh said.

She'd like to ensure continuity on the school board as Barry Shepherd enters his first full school year as superintendent of Cabarrus County Schools.

Fertenbaugh is a computer security program manager at EDS in Charlotte, in addition to serving on the State Board of Education's Business and Technology Alliance and North Carolina e-Learning Commission.

Blackwelder, 43, of Concord, has served as the school board chair since December 2007.

She was the leading vote-getter in the 2004 school board race, her first campaign, and came within a few votes of dashing County Commissioner Bob Carruth's re-election hopes during the Republican Primary in May.

Blackwelder said she feels the school board is doing a lot of great things and would like to see such progress continue. She'd like for the system to continue combating the dropout rate and standardizing construction processes to save money.

She is co-owner of Blackwelder & Associates Inc., which focuses primarily on residential construction.

Davidson, 67, of Concord, has endorsed the re-election campaigns for Blackwelder and Fertenbaugh, while strongly urging Williams to run again. He said vacancies left by Poole and Shue signify the need for qualified candidates to run for school board.

Davidson believes his experience in business, education, community service and performance improvement will prove to be a valuable asset to the board.

He began teaching in Charlote-Mecklenburg Schools as a second career following his retirement from IBM as a senior manager. He was a member of the team that established IBM Charlotte and has managed an IBM plant of more than 1,000 employees.

Davidson had the fourth most votes in the 2006 school board race, but fell short of getting one of three available seats.

Harrison, 50, of Concord, is running for school board for a third time after unsuccessful attempts in 2002 and 2004.

He has served as a corporate banking technology analyst and trainer for 13 years, as well as a part-time English instructor at area colleges, such as Rowan-Cabarrus Community College and UNC Charlotte.

He also has children enrolled in Cabarrus County Schools.

"It takes perspective from a parent's point of view to understand what the teachers are trying to do and what they struggle mightily with every day," Harrison said.

His priorities include nurturing children, supporting teachers and building good schools, he said.

Ravesteyn and Tizon also have children in the school system.

Ravesteyn, 44, of Kannapolis, has owned and operated Winecoff Family Practice for eight years.

And while this is his first school board campaign, he has three children in elementary school and his mother is a retired teacher.

"Running for school board is something I want to do because I have an interest in education," said Ravesteyn, noting he hopes to contribute more hard work and honesty to the school board.

Robert Tizon, 38, of Harrisburg, would like to add school board member to his duties, which includes serving on the Air National Guard. He's also a dad, with a daughter attending middle school.

"I actually moved out of Mecklenburg into Cabarrus because of the schools," Tizon said. "The school system is top notch. And I want to contribute to ensure we're still at that level and beyond."

Since the school board is currently comprised of Concord residents, Tizon said the board could use more representation from other fast-growing communities, such as Harrisburg.

Residents have until Aug. 1 to apply for the school board ballot. The process involves filling out some forms and paying a $5 filing fee to the county elections office at 53 Corban Ave., S.E., Concord.

Details: 704-920-2860 or www.co.cabarrus.nc.us/elections

--Contact Justin Vick: 704-789-9138


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