Three positions up for grabs on Leavenworth school board

John Richmeier
The Leavenworth Times

There are seven candidates this year for three at-large seats for the Leavenworth Board of Education.

The candidates are incumbents Mike Carney, Doug Darling and Alisa Murphy as well as Chris Eckley, Ronald Grossman, Brian Stephens and Vanessa Reid.

Voters in the school district will be asked to vote for three of the candidates or fewer. The top three vote-getters will be elected to the board.

The Leavenworth Times sent questions to each of the candidates. Two candidates, Vanessa Reid and Ronald Grossman, did not send responses in time.

Responses from the other candidates are included in this article.

Early voting has started. Election Day is Nov. 2.

Mike Carney

Mike Carney

Age: 75

Occupation: Retired recreation director; vocational training director

Political experience: Board member USD 453 for three terms. Served on numerous boards and committees in our community

Douglas A. Darling

Doug Darling

Age: 69

Occupation: Retired U.S. Army and Department of the Army civilian

Political experience: Four terms on the Unified School District 453 Board of Education. The dates are 1995-1999, 2003-2007, 2013-present

Chris Eckley

Chris Eckley

Age: 54

Occupation: Retired

Political experience: First-time candidate

Alisa Murphy

Alisa Murphy

Age: 60

Occupation: Wife, mother and grandmother. Self-employed business owner, customer service specialist, consultant in multimedia marketing.

Political experience: Elected to the USD 453 Board of Education November 2017. Service January 2018 to present, two years as the board vice president July 2018 - July 2020. Community mayor, elected to three terms, elected 1999. Served 2000-2002.

Brian E. Stephens

Brian Stephens

Age: 39

Occupation: Health care inspector

Political experience: None

Why are you running for the Leavenworth Board of Education?

Carney: I am running for the board because it is important that stability, common sense and experience define the board. Guiding the district into the future demands sound leadership, and I was in multiple leadership positions during my 33 years of federal employment and while on the Board of Education.

Darling: Every U.S. citizen has a duty to serve the larger community. The Hatch Act left me able to seek only nonpartisan political office as a then serving Department of the Army civilian. As the grandson, son and husband of teachers, I felt I could best contribute to my community in the education field.

Eckley: Education is the most important investment we make as a society and I am concerned about what our kids are being taught and I have the time and energy to be a voice for the parents.

Murphy: I take pride in this position; that is why I've not missed a meeting in four years. I’d like to continue working to maintain financial responsibility, increase test scores and improve mental and physical health. To grow existing trade school programs, and college ready programs. To be an advocate for the children and parents.

Stephens: The simple answer: To serve and give back to a community that has provided me with so much. I believe my personal and professional experience, along with my education, will help add a knowledgeable, young, local voice to the school board.

What are the most important issues facing the school board?

Carney: I have developed my own three Rs which are retooling the academic process to overcome the learning loss attributed to the pandemic, recruiting educators that want to live and work in our district and community and lastly retain all of our district employees through creative incentives.

Darling: Keeping our schools open as Leavenworth navigates its way through the COVID-19 pandemic in the short term. In the long term, it is to prepare every student for success in every classroom, every day.

Eckley: Our schools and our kids are under attack. There is a movement to systemically change our culture and our children are the lab rats. Our teachers are being forced to indoctrinate rather than educate.

Murphy: Children falling behind grade level, the need for higher testing scores while being provided programs/assistance for mental/emotional health. This means additional tutoring opportunities and counselors. Teachers/staff need better pay. Many parents feel left out of the conversation. I’ve strived to make sure all voices are represented with their children’s education and well being.

Stephens: The COVID-19 gap is extremely concerning. This is represented by lower test scores and lost learning during the pandemic. With the current state of the delta variant, those struggles are likely to continue. As a board it is imperative that we ensure the students, educators and staff have the best available resources to close the gap and continue to grow.