WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Macomb Board of Education Candidates

Mar 27, 2019

Eight people are running for three open seats on the Macomb School Board. Tri States Public Radio talked to seven of the candidates.  The eighth declined our interview request.

The candidates (listed in ballot order):

Steve Gray

Steve Gray

Gray has served on the school board since June, 2018, when he was appointed to fill an open seat.

Gray said he wants to give back to the community by serving on the school board. Gray said he has spent his entire life in Macomb and in education, either as a student or a teacher. He currently teaches Accounting and Finance at Western Illinois University, with an emphasis in recent years on financial health. He said he would give the Macomb School District an “A” for its finances.

We also talked about the district’s plans to build a new middle school, diversity in the district’s workforce, and technology issues.

Gray believes his background in education and finance plus his years living in the district combine to make him a good candidate for the school board.

Matt Duncan

Matt Duncan

Duncan is an agronomist and soil scientist for an agriculture retail firm. He is seeking his second four-year term on the board.

Duncan said he ran the first time because he wanted to contribute to the community. He believes the board has continued to move the district in the right direction the past four years.  He said the STEM subjects were critical to his education and career, and he believes the school district offers “a pretty nice selection” of STEM courses.

We also talked about the district’s finances, plans to build a new middle school, and diversity in the district’s workforce.

Duncan said it takes about a year to feel comfortable on the board and grasp everything happening with the district.  He believes voters should reelect him because of the experience he gained through his first four years on the board.

Emily Sutton

Emily Sutton

Sutton is an attorney who is making her first run for public office.

Sutton said she is running because she has children and step-children in the school system.  She said her job as an attorney requires her to keep a cool head while resolving conflicts and she said that’s a skill she can bring to the board.  Sutton believes her planning skills as an attorney can also help the board.

We also talked about the district’s finances, the issue of consolidation, and the district’s plans to build a new middle school.

Sutton said voters should choose her because she is passionate about education and wants to ensure the district is meeting the needs of every student.

Julie Campbell

Julie Campbell

Campbell is a tenure track professor in the Department of Psychology at Illinois State University.  This is her first run for public office.

Campbell said she enjoys reading research and translating it to help others understand the information.  She believes that’s a skill she can bring to the school board. Campbell said she reads a lot of research about infant, child, and adolescent development and what factors influence academic success.

We also talked about technology issues, the district’s plans to build a new middle school, and diversity in the district’s workforce.

Campbell said she knows a lot about methodologies that teachers can use in the class room to improve teachers’ lives and the way teachers interact with children. She said that combined with her love of reading and translating research make her a good candidate for the school board.

Kishor Kapale

Kishor Kapale

Kapale is Chairperson of the Department of Physics at Western Illinois University. This is his first run for public office.

Kapale said he runs the bot and bitty bots robotics teams in the school district’s elementary and middle schools. But he believes the district could offer more.  Kapale is especially interested in expanding what’s taught in the STEM fields. He would like to see more opportunities for students to explore their inner scientist.

We also talked about the district’s finances, the issue of consolidation, and the district’s plans to build a new middle school.

Kapale said his familiarity with the international education system and research-proven teaching methods make him a good candidate for the school board.

Scott Torrance

Scott Torrance

Torrance is a farmer who is seeking his second four-year term on the board. He is currently the board’s vice president.

Torrance said he believes the board has done some good work in the past four years and he would like to serve another term to take care of “unfinished business,” such as the completion of building projects. He said some of those projects will ensure that school buildings include a section that can withstand an EF4 tornado. He also wants to see a new middle school built and the current junior-senior high converted to a senior high as originally intended.

We also talked about the district’s finances, diversity in the district’s workforce, and technology issues.

Torrance said he is growing and learning as a school board member and believes that makes him a good choice for another term.

Byron Oden-Shabazz

Byron Oden-Shabazz

Oden-Shabazz is a Building Service Foreman in Facilities Management at Western Illinois University. This is his first run for public office.

Oden-Shabazz said there is more good than bad in the school district. But he is concerned about the lack of racial diversity among the district’s administration and teachers. He feels no one in the system has raised an issue with that.  Oden-Shabazz believes he can be the voice that’s been missing on the issue.

We also talked about the district’s plans to build a new middle school, technology issues, and the district’s finances.

Oden-Shabazz said voters should choose him because he is willing to be an outside voice on the board and raise issues that are not being discussed.