Elections are April 6 for Cave Springs and Belfonte School board seats, and City of Stilwell Council seats. There is also a sales tax increase for the City of Stilwell for voters to decide if they will support progress for the city or not.
Answers to questions sent to candidates follow. Three Belfonte candidates declined to answer Kim Muskrat, Nadine Ross and Corey Scott.
Candidates for Belfonte Office 1 are Mike Hyde and Kim Muskrat, and Office 2 are Ed Baker and Nadine Ross. For Cave Springs Corey Paul Scott and Charlie Stilwell face off. For City of Stilwell incumbent Coye Nettles is challenged by Jamie Johnson and Jim Spray by Frankie Hargis.
School Board questions:
1. Why are you interested is serving the board?
2. What experience do you bring to the job?
3. What qualities are important for a school board member?
4. What do you most want people to know about you?
5. What are problems you see the school board might need to address?
6. Anything else voters need to know?
Mike Hyde- Belfonte Office 1
1. I’d like to work with everyone and ensure kids get the education they’re entitled to.
2. I’ve been on the board 13 years.
3. Do the best you can. Make the decisions you think and the community thinks will improve education for the child. Have a good rapper with faculty and community.
4. I really think if everyone pulls together and the community has a good relationship with the board, the school improves. I want to be there and help the kids.
5. We’re struggling against the budget from the state and the state leans toward consolidating.
6. I think our smaller schools provide a better education. Belmont doesn’t have larger classes and children get personalized classes. I’m not for virtual learning. I’ve never seen a computer tap a kid on the shoulder and say, “you did a good job.”
Ed Baker - Belfonte Office 2
1. I have been a resident of this district for over 50 years. I believe it is essential for smaller children to go to school in the community where they live.
2. I attended a rural school in this area in grade school. My wife and I are both retired school teachers having served 30 years each in rural K-8 grade schools. Our two grown children attended a rural K-8 grade school. I have served on this school board once before.
3. Integrity, honesty and the respect of the citizens of the district. I believe the board member must have a goal of seeing the school system in constant improvement.
4. My parents lived and raised their family in this community. They bought a farm here in 1937 and sent four boys (I'm the youngest) through college while farming. My wife and I have had ownership of that farm for many years and have seen our two children successfully through college and profitable careers. We believe in hard work, honesty, and doing unto others as we would have them do unto us.
5. The greatest problem our rural schools face is survival. As our culture changes it is more and more difficult to provide learning materials and environment for the children compared to the budgets of the larger districts.
6. Year after year we hear rumors out of the large Oklahoma cities to consolidate, always aimed at the rural districts. I believe whole-heartedly in the local community school especially for the K-8 grades where children can get close, personalized attention in the form they are accustomed to.
Charles W. Stilwell - Cave Springs
1. I love Cave Springs School and I don't want our school or community to disappear like I have seen happen to others. I have spent all of my school years at Cave Springs in which my father was a graduate from. He was also the janitor there for several years so I was always at the school. Cave Springs is a second home to me with so many wonderful memories. I want Cave Springs to succeed and our kids to have every available option to become whatever they want to be.
2. I have served as a Cave Springs board member for the last few years.
3. You really have to make the students, school and staff the main priority. If the school is to succeed, personal agendas cannot take priority over the students and school. You really have to work with others and get all the facts to make the best decision for the school. You really have to care enough to pay attention to all the aspects including, financial, student opportunities, student input, staff input, and community input. You also have to be humble enough to know if a decision isn't working, you need to try to get all the input from the actual people affected by the decision and modify where needed.
4. I really care about Cave Springs.
5. Continued improvement and stability. To help Cave Springs to continue, a board member needs to always to be aware of the finances, state requirements, student's education needs/opportunities, staff satisfaction, and how to improve good communication between administration, staff, students, school board, and community.
6. I really care about Cave Springs and will always try to make the best decision for the school. I just want everyone to help keep Cave Springs School going because the administration, staff, students, school board, community, friends, and past graduates need to work together to make sure our history remains no matter who wins this board seat.
City Council questions
1 Why are you interested is serving on the council?
2 What experience do you bring to the job?
3 What qualities are important for a council member?
4 What do you most want people to know about you?
5 What are problems you see the council might need to address?
6 Anything else voters need to know?
Stilwell City Council
1. My first goal as a council member was to clean up some of the neglected and dilapidated buildings in Stilwell. It has taken four code enforcers to get several of these buildings demolished. A town that looks neat and well taken care of is going to attract more businesses. My goal this term is work with the council, mayor, economic development director and others to attract and support new businesses. What interested me in the job was a desire to see Stilwell prosper as a community.
2. As an educator for 40 years, I have dealt with a lot of people. The main thing I bring to this position is an ability to listen to people who have a problem with the way things are being done and get to the root of the problem. Then I can discuss possible solutions that are workable with the resources available. Listening is so important to solving problems.
3. Qualities that I consider important in a council member are an ability to keep cool during discussion and an ability to listen. All new council members are required to attend a day long workshop about basic do’s and don’ts about city government, which ensures that council members have a basic understanding of city government. Education and information about the issues are a vital attribute for any council member.
4. I have lived in Stilwell since 1982. There have been opportunities to leave for jobs in other school systems but I never really wanted to leave. We live in one of the oldest houses in town and rehabbing and remodeling is something I take joy in. I very much enjoy having the outside of our house looking nice. I have raised three sons here (all Air Force Academy graduates) and they still consider this to be their home town.
5. The council has passed a lot of ordinances to make this a safer place to live. Sometimes the public does not understand why we make the decisions that are made. Encouraging people to speak to their councilor and coming to meetings should be an automatic for any citizen who has a concern. If we don’t know there is a problem, we can’t work on solving it.
Jamie Lynn Johnson
1. I am interested in serving as city council to be a voice for the residents of the community and also the businesses. I feel they weren’t consulted on past issues enough and I feel like communication needs to be a two way street with the community and the council.
2. I have previously served on various committees in the education field as a teacher and coach and believe I work well with others, communicate well and have an open mind when it comes to issues. Ultimately I want to listen to the people of the community, all the people, and vote for their best interests.
3. Being available to listen to the concerns of the local citizens, communicating effectively, being open minded about issues without letting emotions and personal beliefs get in the way are important, along with being familiar with the city ordinances, rules and regulations and understanding basic parliamentary procedure.
4. I would like people to know I am willing to do what is needed for the community. I truly want to hear their concerns and will do my best to get answers for those concerns or help with the situation as best I can. I love living in Stilwell and I want this to be a town my daughter will also grow up loving to live in also.
5. I’ve spoke with citizens recently about some crime issues we have and I would like to see those issues addressed more openly and more consistently.
6. I would like voters to know I am not a politician, I am a mother, teacher and coach. I value honesty and integrity very much. I have been a resident of this town my entire life, even while attending college or teaching in other towns. I want to see our community continue to grow, but for the better and more together. I currently teach and coach in Gentry, Arkansas for 5 years now and have 10 years of education experience. I believe it will make me a valuable asset to the council to help become more cohesive and collaborate more not just with each other but other organizations and the community.
1. I have been on the council for several years and feel that I will bring considerable knowledge and experience back to the table for the benefit of our city.
2. I worked for the State of Oklahoma for 29 years, of which 22 years was in a supervisory capacity for multiple counties, building teams in case management. I have been on the City Council for 16 years and within that time served as acting mayor from May 2017 to May 2019. I have undergraduate college majors in Criminal Justice and Psychology and a Master of Science Degree in Criminal Justice Administration, and later completed a Minor in Business Administration all from NSU in Tahlequah
3. A member of the council must quickly educate themselves on the overall operation of city government, strive to continually improve city functions and infrastructure, respond to citizen needs and continually work to improve the health, safety and education of the community to maintain an enjoyable quality of life.
4. I have been a lifetime member of the city and understand the needs of our local community to best benefit our citizenry.
5. Current ongoing needs are continued infrastructure improvement, support of our businesses, as well as new business creation, and quality job and wage development.
6. I would be honored if the voters will allow me another term to work with the excellent council we currently have in place, who genuinely possess the compassion and desire to move the city forward in a positive manner.
1. I am interested in serving on the City Council because I would like to see some changes within our city. Changes that make it an even better place to live.
2. I have served on Cherokee Nation Tribal Council. I have seven years working with 16 other councilors to move Cherokee Nation forward. I have also worked many volunteer programs in our community.
3. A City Council member must care about the community. Be willing to give of their time. Needs to have an open mind and be a good listener.
4. I am fair, honest, and dependable.
5. The City Council needs to address many issues: the city economy, our police department issues, street safety, and stray animals just to name a few.
6. When making decisions, they will be made based on what is best for our community.