The June 2 municipal election for the Moniteau County R-1 (California) School District Board of Education has five candidates seeking three available seats, all for three-year terms.
Christian L. Pickering, Tony D. Haile, Paul Bloch, Landon Porter and Brandy Brockes are all on the ballot for Tuesday's election.
The election was originally scheduled for April 7, but Gov. Mike Parson postponed all municipal elections to June 2 in light of concerns surrounding COVID-19.
The Democrat asked the candidates to answer the following questions.
Name: Christian (Chris) Pickering
Years living in district: 20 years
Education: Bachelors degree in criminal justice.
Occupation: Safety and Security Director
Family: My wife, Barbara, and I have been married for 27 years. We have four children: Gavin, class of '15; Audrey, class of '17; Nathan, class of '19; and William, who will graduate from California High School in 2021. I am very proud of the accomplishments of my family and attribute many of their successes to the education and social support from our community.
Leadership experience: Throughout my career, I have served in various leadership positions. I have served on several policy boards with budgets large and small. I have managed and directly supervised more than 50 employees while building new product lines for a global telecommunications company. I currently lead more than 30 employees focusing on the safety and security of our clients.
Why are you running for school board?: I believe we have had great leadership over the years and with three members leaving, I believe I can contribute to the continued success of our district. With the district's Vision for the Future, I would like to contribute to supporting our staff and school's leadership. I wish to continue the tradition of a community-oriented district, where we value local control and providing well-rounded educational opportunities for all of our children.
Why is public education important?: Public education is important for our community, state and nation because it encourages critical thinking, problem solving and civic involvement. The better educated our children, the more opportunities they will have. Our goal should be to provide a better life for our children.
What skills or knowledge do you possess that could benefit the district?: I possess years of experience with budgets, policy creation and risk assessments. I am committed to community service and involvement with our children.
What issues are most important to you?: Continued improvement in the educational opportunities for our children by challenging staff and the district administration to provide an exceptional learning environment. Targeted improvement to the district's physical resources allowing for comfortable classrooms and updated facilities.
What is your view on Proposition 2020 — Vision for the Future?: This proposition is a prime example of how the leadership and administration are working to create opportunities for the next generation. I support the proposition and would encourage all to vote in favor of the district's effort.
What else should voters know about you before they go to the polls?: I am very proud of our community — we are there for those in need and always ready to step up and support our citizens. These are learned values that are important for us to promote in our classrooms. Please utilize your right to vote, educate yourself on the issues and contribute to our community.
Name: Tony Haile
Years living in district: I have resided in the Moniteau County R-1 school district my entire life.
Education: I graduated from California R-1 in 2002 as the Salutatorian of my class before moving onto the University of Missouri Columbia from where I graduated with honors in December 2005 with a Bachelor's degree in Agronomy and minors in Ag Economics and Soils.
Occupation: Since graduating college, I returned to California and joined Gene Haile Excavating Inc., a business my parents started back in 1983. Currently, I am vice president of the company and also work as foreman on larger jobs we do. We also raise cattle and some row crops.
Family: I have been married to my wife, Christen, since 2006. We live just south of California on our farm and have been blessed with three awesome children: Isaac, 12, Kinzie, 10, and Luke, 6.
Leadership experience: I currently serve as Chairman of Deacons at Main Street Baptist Church where I have gained experience in leading meetings, developing plans, and reaching out to people. Probably where I have gained the most experience, though, is through working at our family business. Having started out running a shovel as a child and then moving up through the years, the one thing I have always learned is to be a leader is not always or sometimes ever about just telling people what to do. A leader has to be willing to do whatever he is asking others to do. While working at Gene Haile Excavating, I bid jobs, work on schedules, budgets and make personnel decisions needed to make the business run efficiently.
Why are you running for school board?: I feel it is the responsibility of us as parents to be active in our children's education, and this is one area where I feel I can be most helpful. Also, I appreciate all that California R-1 staff and teachers have done for me to get me where I am today. The district has done a good job in this area, as I can see through my children that we still have many of those great teachers dedicating their time to our children's education. I just hope to be able to help continue to foster an environment where both teachers and, most of all, our children are able to excel both in and out of school both academically, and through other extracurricular activities.
Why is public education important?: Public education is important because of the many benefits it provides to the community. Public education is cost-effective, available to anyone and provides many opportunities to the children of our community. It also provides many extra academic opportunities, such as college-accredited classes and programs teaching career opportunities. Public education also allows students to participate in other extracurricular activities such as sports, choir, FFA, National Honor Society and many other things they wouldn't be able to do without the public education system. Moreover, it allows all children to have equal opportunities to learn and grow both socially and academically.
What skills or knowledge do you possess that could benefit the district?: I believe that the leadership skills explained above and the experience I have is beneficial to district. If the bond issue passes, my knowledge of the construction industry and its processes could help to ensure the project goes smoothly. My ability to work with others and make decisions based on the facts and resources available would also be an asset.
What issues are most important to you?: For me, the most important issue is to ensure that California R-1 remains a place where the children of our district are safe, and have the same great academic and extracurricular opportunities which I had while attending here. Also, the dangers of drug use in our youth and in around our campuses, and ensuring faculty and staff have all necessary resources available to them to meet today's challenges in education. Finally, ensuring the funds available to the district are used efficiently.
What is your view on Proposition 2020 — Vision for the Future?: I believe this proposition is a great opportunity for our district. Not only does it allow our school to do some much needed maintenance on current facility buildings and parking areas, but it will also allow them to upgrade and update other facilities. Through this bond, the district will be able to replace the current elementary school building with a new facility enabling teachers in this building more room, safety and opportunities to teach our children. This bond issue does this also by not raising our taxes, but merely continuing the tax levy at the rate we are currently paying. In my opinion, it's a win-win for the district.
What else should voters know about you before they go to the polls?: Most people that know me know that I am a hard and dedicated worker at whatever I do, and will take those same characteristics with me to the school board if elected. I also want people to know that I am open minded to many different opinions and ideas and willing to work with others to accomplish whatever is best for the teachers and children of our school. Also, I would always be available to listen to and evaluate the concerns of people in the district.
Name: Paul Bloch
Years living in district: Lifetime resident
Education: Graduate of California R-1 School, Bachelors degree from Lincoln University, Masters degree from University of Missouri - Columbia.
Occupation: Owner, PBA Election Supply; retired State Farm insurance agent.
Family: My wife, Becky, and I are raising a grandson, Ethan, and have two grown children and five other grandchildren.
Leadership experience: Bloch is a current member of the Missouri Personnel Advisory Board and Moniteau County Library Board. He served as president of the California Lions Club, Moniteau County R-1 School Board, and Missouri State Farm Agents Political Action Committee. He is a past member of the Lincoln University Board of Curators.
Why are you running for school board?: The school district's primary goal is to educate students and prepare them for future success in life. The school board, by setting district policy and hiring the superintendent, is a key factor in meeting that goal. If elected, I would work with other board members and our administration to continue to strive for excellence in our schools.
Why is public education important?: As a foundation for success, a good education is essential. Publicly funded schools have been a vital part of that foundation since the early years of our country. Also, a successful school district is an economic boon for the community that it is located in — businesses and their employees, retirees, and others considering relocating to an area are influenced by the reputation of the local school district.
What skills or knowledge do you possess that could benefit the district?: I have been a small business owner for many years and have served on a number of public boards and commissions.
What issues are most important to you?: No particular issue stands out, other than continuing the district's efforts in educating our student population. However, I have always had an interest in seeing young teachers succeed in their chosen profession, so the school's mentoring program would be of special interest to me.
What is your view on Proposition 2020 — Vision for the Future?: I support the proposition and understand that our school system needs to maintain modern, accessible buildings and grounds to facilitate learning.
What else should voters know about you before they go to the polls?: That I have always been involved in our community and would appreciate the opportunity to continue that involvement by serving on the board.
Name: Landon Porter
Years living in district: 16 years
Education: California High School and Linn State Technical College
Family: I married Jennifer Lawson in 2004, and we have four children: Gavin, 14; Lainey, 10; Bralynn, 8; and Mya, 5. They will all attend California R-1.
Leadership experience: I have 10 years of experience coaching boys basketball at California R-1. I've served as a board member for the California Youth Football Club and on the foundation committee at First Baptist Church. I also have leadership experience with various other committees, groups and sports.
Why are you running for school board?: Running for school board is something I have wanted to do for quite some time. I want to help to continue to guide the district in the right direction.
Why is public education important?: A strong public education system is very important to a town the size of California. Educating the local children sets a good foundation for the California community in the future.
What skills or knowledge do you possess that could benefit the district?: Having attended high school here and after living in town the last 16 years, I feel I have a good understanding of what the people in this community want from their school district.
What issues are most important to you?: Taking care of our teachers and expanding our facilities to accommodate our growing enrollment.
What is your view on Proposition 2020 — Vision for the Future?: I think in order to be able to offer a good education, we need more room to educate. Overcrowded classrooms are not a recipe for success.
What else should voters know about you before they go to the polls?: I care about this community and the people in it and want to continue to advance this school district.
Name: Brandy Brockes
Years living in district: 25 years
Education: Trade school graduate
Occupation: Salon owner/cosmetologist and automotive repair shop co-owner
Family: I am married to my husband Adam, and we have three children: Conner, 9, Ruby, 4, and Nova, 2.
Leadership experience: I am currently serving as the president of the California Area Chamber of Commerce. I was the organizer of the California Area Women's Business Council in 2019, which went on to raise $20,000 for area tornado victims. I also currently help with the committee to get Prop 2020 passed.
Why are you running for school board?: My genuine love and care for our community. I truly believe that we have one of the best schools in the Mid-Missouri area, and I want to be a part of that.
Why is public education important?: I believe that our community is only as strong as our schools. Giving students a leg up in the world with top notch teachers, facilities, academic and athletics allows them to have an advantage when they graduate from California R-1. At the same time, our school gets to be a soft place to land and a support systems for those students and families in need.
What skills or knowledge do you possess that could benefit the district?: The first one would be empathy. I'm always able to put myself in the other person's shoes to understand how they are feeling. I'm a great listener. I genuinely care about how people feel and that they just want to be heard. I also run two businesses. I understand that money has to be there for money to go out.
What issues are most important to you?: Education is my primary interest. I believe when children get the best education possible, they are allowed to excel upon graduation. Next would be school safety. We live in a day and age where school safety is a genuine concern, and I know for myself that I don't want to live in fear of sending my children to school.
What is your view on Proposition 2020 — Vision for the Future?: I believe this is the best option for the current state of our elementary school and for the security of our buildings. There are so many advantages to Prop 2020! I hope people really take an interest to learn about it and see how much our schools truly need these changes.
What else should voters know about you before they go to the polls?: I am a 2003 graduate of the California School District. The love I had for our school back then has rolled over into adulthood. My husband and I moved back to California in 2013 to ensure our children would attend school here, and they will be third generation graduates. I try to stay involved in many activities through the school and our community and I believe I have the knowledge and empathy to sit on the school board. I appreciate you taking the time to learn a little about me, and I would appreciate your vote June 2!