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The Perry County Republican Party organized and hosted a “Candidate Forum” on Thursday, June 16, 2022, at Azbill Community Center.

Those in attendance heard comments from seventeen of the more than sixty candidates—many of them unopposed—on the August 4 ballot.

The longest exchange was between Judge Katerina Moore and Tish Wilsdorf Holder who are running for the General Sessions and Juvenile Court Judge eight-year term.

This report will review statements from the candidates who chose to participate in the forum. A complete list of all candidates on the August 4 ballot will be published in future issues, including on sample ballots.

First up were Board of Education member Rodd Spaid and Stacy Hinson Graves who are running for the seat in District Three.

Perry County GOP Chairman Bob Ousley served as moderator and asked questions of some candidates.

Graves and Spaid both agreed that critical race theory should not be taught in public schools. Graves said the theory promotes discrimination against races. Spaid agreed, saying you can’t pit one race against another, and that such ideas should be extracurricular.

Ousley asked if the candidates believed parents should have the ultimate decision on what is taught in schools.

Graves said schools and parents must cooperate to build a strong learning community. She said, “Parents have to trust schools and schools need to partner with parents.”

Spaid said parents depend on schools to make the right decisions and that decisions on certain issues must come from the home.

The next question focused on books and if the candidates would review texts to see what is being taught.

Graves said the school board must adopt curriculum, but should be aware of information that book companies “sneak in.” For example, math texts contain written problems that might be biased.

Spaid said the process requires a teacher panel to review books and recommend, but the board still must approve the textbooks and curriculum.

Both agreed that board of education members should review textbooks.

The final question: is money the answer to better education?

Graves said teachers deserve more pay, and with the ongoing teacher shortage, higher pay will be necessary to attract good teachers. She supported the idea of more state and federal funding for teacher salaries.

Spaid said the school system must have funds to operate, noting that all costs have increased, and that the federal free lunch program for all students will not be in place next school year. He also pointed out that federal funds are earmarked, which means the school system must spend the money for specific expenses which ties the school board’s hands.

State Senator Ed Jackson, who is running in the new 25th District, introduced himself at the forum and said he looked forward to representing Perry County if he is elected in November. He is unopposed in the primary on August 4.

Also unopposed is State Representative Kirk Haston who encouraged those present to contact his office if they thought they had a good idea for legislation, or felt current legislation should be changed.

Haston said the “best ideas” come from the public. He used the Holly Bobo Act, which he sponsored and gained approval in the legislature, as an example.

Steve Yahnke, who lives in Perry County and is running for a Republican Party State Executive Committee seat in the Seventh District,………………………..


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