Five candidates are vying for two seats on the Bexley City Schools Board of Education that will be decided in the Nov. 5 election.
The candidates are incumbent Mike Denison and challengers Sarah Ackman, Alissha Mitchell, Victoria Powers and April Walsh. Incumbent Melissa Lacroix is not seeking reelection.
Ackman, 40, is a Montrose Avenue resident who has worked as an attorney in the Ohio Attorney General's office and the Franklin County Prosecutor's office. She has a bachelor's degree with a double major in political science and gender and women's studies from the University of Toledo. She also holds a law degree from the University of Toledo College of Law. She and her husband, Bill, have three children. She has lived in Bexley for four years.
"I have served as a public servant for my entire career and want to use my skill set as an advocate for the children and families in Bexley," Ackman said. "I have a unique perspective as a parent of a child with special needs, and that perspective is not currently represented on the board.
"We have this unique opportunity in my family to experience inclusion every day with our twins and see the beauty that it brings. Everyone has something to teach and learn from one another," she said.
Denison, 42, also a Montrose Avenue resident, was elected to the school board in 2011. He is principal and design director at Roto, a planning and design firm. He holds a bachelor's degree in Miami University and a master's degree in architecture from Ohio State University. He and his wife, Meagan, have two children. Denison attended high school in Bexley and moved back to the community 10 years ago.
"I believe in the promise of a Bexley education. The promise that if a student graduates from our schools, they will possess the skills, knowledge and values that truly prepare them for their future," Denison said. "As a Bexley graduate myself, I know firsthand the impact a great education can have.
"While we have made progress in my two terms on the board, there are still too many of our minority students, special-needs students and economically disadvantaged students who aren't achieving their true potential. Bexley is too small and too resourceful to allow any student, regardless of their background or challenge, to graduate without the skills needed for success. Delivering on this 'Bexley promise' for each of our students is my passion and over the last eight years, I have demonstrated the engaged, independent, leadership it will take to make it happen," he said.
Mitchell, 43, is an East Livingston Avenue resident who serves as a commercial property manager for NAI, Ohio Equities LLC. She previously served on the Bexley school board beginning in February 2015, when the board unanimously appointed her to fill the unexpired term of former board member Carol Fey. Mitchell was elected in November 2015 to serve the final two years of Fey's term. She holds a bachelor's degree in business administration from Ohio Dominican University. She and her husband, Brian, have five children. She has lived in Bexley for 10 years.
"It was an incredible honor and privilege to serve as Bexley's first and only African American member or candidate to seek election to our (school board) from 2015-17," Mitchell said. "In three short years, I collaborated with my colleagues to further policy that supported not just the success of minority students, or students with learning differences and economically disadvantaged families, but also impacting and influencing our board policy in prioritizing student success from more than one lens. In doing so, we began to reshape the organizational DNA from within so that inclusion wasn't just about hosting events or checking boxes, but about expecting our district to develop a competency and awareness for each student."
Powers, 59, is a South Cassingham Road resident who is employed as an attorney and adjunct professor at Capital University Law School. She holds a bachelor's degree in philosophy from Mount Holyoke College and a law degree from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law. She and her husband, David, have two children. She has lived in Bexley for 22 years.
"I am running for the Bexley Board of Education because I am passionate about ensuring excellence for each student in a changing world. Our schools are strong, and they can be stronger," Powers said. "My priorities are that we focus on student wellness in all forms; support and value multiple paths to success with equity in opportunity for all learners; meet the needs of special education students; strive to have the diversity of our teachers reflect the diversity of our student body; and commit to fiscal responsibility, transparency, and accountability."
Walsh, 35, is a South Remington Road resident employed as a teacher and transition coordinator at Eastmoor Academy. She holds a bachelor's degree in special education and master's degree in education in curriculum instruction with a technology focus from Ohio Dominican University. She and her husband, Christopher, have four children. She has lived in Bexley for six years.
"Having spent my entire professional career in public education, I bring the experience and relative perspective that is missing from our school board," Walsh said. "I have the opportunity to be in schools, working with students and staff every day, allowing me to see policy in action, to understand how board decisions impact teaching and learning, and to appreciate how important and critical our community's involvement is, in our school district.
"As a special-education teacher and parent, I have become an excellent and effective advocate. I want to use my knowledge and skills to work for the schools," she said.
NOTE: Look for candidate Q&As and additional election coverage in the coming weeks in ThisWeek Bexley News and online at ThisWeekNEWS.com.