There are two competitive races this year for the Tonganoxie Board of Education.

There are two competitive races this year for the Tonganoxie Board of Education.

The election is Tuesday.

In the race for the school board’s Position 4, Jim Bothwell is facing Stacy Willis. Position 4 represents a central area of the school district.

In the race for Position 5, incumbent Phillip Welsh is being challenged by Karen K. Wake-Bottary. Position 5 represents a northern portion of the school district. Rachell I. Rowand also filed as a candidate for Position 5, but she has dropped out of the race.

Chris Gratton is running unopposed for Position 6.


The candidates for Position 4:


Jim Bothwell

Age: 48

Occupation: Bank examiner, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City

Political experience: I previously served approximately eight years on the Tonganoxie Planning and Zoning Committee, and I currently chair the Endowment Committee for the Tonganoxie United Methodist Church. Other volunteer activities have included coaching youth sports, assisting with school bond campaigns and treasurer for the “Vote Yes for the Pool” Committee. This would be my first elected position.


Stacy Willis

Age: 44

Occupation: I am a former educator with almost 20 years experience in public education. Currently, I am working in corporate customer service.

Political experience: This is my first venture into the political arena.


The candidates for Position 5:


Karen K. Wake-Bottary

Age: 51

Occupation: Enrolled agent

Political experience: None, however I served in the United States Navy and held leadership positions at Norwich University so I am accustomed to working effectively within governing rules and regulations.


Phillip Welsh

Age: 38

Occupation: Electrical engineering

Political experience: School board member since October 2016


1. Why are you running for Tonganoxie Board of Education?


Bothwell: I believe in a strong public education system, and I believe that my professional background makes me an ideal board candidate. I am accustomed to evaluating organizational performance and providing constructive feedback. I have a strong financial and audit background. In addition, I have two children in the school system.


Willis: I am running for the Tonganoxie school board as a way to give back to the community I love. I have volunteered, coached and taught in Tonganoxie since 2004. Serving on the Board of Education is my way of continuing to provide top-notch education to the students in our community.


Wake-Bottary: I have a vested interest in Tonganoxie schools. Our children are third generation USD 464 students. We have amazing teachers and incredible students at USD 464 who continually excel in academic excellence. We must do whatever we can to facilitate even higher levels of excellence for each student. We must continue to attract excellent teachers and provide the support they need to grant them the opportunity to guide and influence as many students as possible in preparation for their future.


Welsh: I have a strong background in construction, along with my experience with engineering, financial budgeting and employee relations. I want to utilize these abilities to help make our schools the best they can be.


2. What do you feel are the most important issues facing the Tonganoxie public schools?


Bothwell: Academic excellence is my first priority, and a key to achieving this is to address the turnover within our administration. Stabilizing our administration with strong leadership is essential for consistency so we can attract and retain quality teachers and continue to build on the many positive opportunities available to our children.


Willis: I believe the most important issue facing our district is finding a new superintendent. Our community deserves some stability. We owe it to our patrons, staff and most importantly our students to do our research and find the best candidate out there.


Wake-Bottary: Stable leadership. We, as a district, are overdue for an effective superintendent who is a strong, effective leader and who has the support of the faculty and community combined with the desire to be a long-term asset to the district. Creating, modeling, and demonstrating an environment for students to meet appropriate educational standards. The ability to recognize, listen and respond when things don’t go as planned.


Welsh: Taking care of our educators, with support both professionally and financially. We want to attract and retain the best teachers possible for the best learning environment for our children. Also making sure our facilities are in the condition needed to facilitate a positive learning environment.