Luther School District voters will choose a new school board member on February 11, 2020. The annual election is to fill the seat currently held by outgoing board member Ray Stanfield. Three candidates filed for the position – Kevin Boydston, Clint Rayburn and Jon Sanchez. According to school district officials, if one of the three candidates earns 50% plus one vote, he will win the seat. Otherwise, the top two vote-getters will have a run off on April 7.
In addition, at the April election, school district voters will also pick between Brandon Rogers and Gerald McCauley, Sr., running to fill the unexpired term of a board member who resigned. Rogers was appointed to the seat by the four remaining school board last September members to serve until the 2020 next election.
The Luther Register thanks Boydston, Rayburn and Sanchez, candidates for the Feb. 11 election, for answering a candidate questionnaire and sharing photographs for readers for this first round of the 2020 Election Season.
Meet Candidate Jon Sanchez
LUTHER REGISTER: Tell us about yourself including your education, occupation, family, children or grandchildren if you have them, and life in Luther. (Share as much as you like).
Jon Sanchez: I grew up in Sapulpa, OK where I attended an independent school from K-8 (Lone Star). I transferred to the Sapulpa School system until I graduated high school. I graduated from University of Central Oklahoma in 2011. Pepe Sanchez and I have been together for 10 years and will be celebrating our 5th wedding anniversary in May. We made a choice about 8 years ago to make Luther our home. We purchased property in the North Fork addition and later built our own home. I have always been lucky to be in what I considered a “small town” and surrounded by family. Luther was a natural choice for us. We were extremely lucky to celebrate “gotcha day” for the last 5 years with our son Braden, who is a second grader at Luther Elementary. I am employed at Levy Restaurants as a Director of Human Resources at the Chesapeake Energy Arena and the University of Oklahoma. I am a director on the Oklahoma City Civic Center Stars Volunteer Board.
LR: Here’s the BIG question. Why are you running for the Luther Board of Education?
Jon Sanchez: I feel that I have been ultimately blessed with the experiences and passion that I have. I feel that those blessings are only enhanced when you are able to share those with others. I work every day with individuals that school systems have failed, and I want to be able to say to myself, and others, that I was able to help those that needed it. The school board is a place where I can use my education and my life experiences to make a difference in the lives of others.
LR: What experience do you have for the position?
Jon Sanchez: I come from a long lineage of public officials and school board members. My maternal great-grandfather was the first city manager of Sapulpa, my Mother served Creek County as Assessor for over two terms. I feel like public service is in my blood.
LR: What are the biggest challenges facing the school district?
Jon Sanchez: Money will always be an issue for most school districts. I wish that was never the case. My vision for serving on the school board is to empower those that want to make a difference and eliminate those that do not. The power that any educator has is un-measureable. I feel that everyone has the power to educate and make a difference. Let’s take that power and set it on fire.
LR: What are challenges facing public education?
Jon Sanchez: Public education has an immense responsibility to mold the minds of the future, but they are not able to do it alone. I feel that one of the biggest issues that is facing public education, as a whole, is involvement of parents.
LR: What are the bright spots you see in the district?
Jon Sanchez: Almost every individual I have encountered at Luther Elementary has a passion for making tomorrow better. It is a family. I may not have been born a Lion, but I am happy to be a Lion now, and I look forward to sharing my passion with the faculty and staff.
LR: What is your impression of Luther Public Schools in terms of the following:
- Enrollment- I know that the enrollment is down a little, but holding steady. I would love for Luther to be able to attract families to the community because I know that they would learn to love it like I have. – JS
- Academics- I have my concerns based on my personal experiences. I am interested in gaining more knowledge on comparisons against like schools. I feel the best way to understand is to compare schools that are similar in size, enrollment, economic means, etc. – JS
- Athletics- Oddly enough athletics is not something that was part of my early life. I was never the most coordinated child. I was raised Seventh- day Adventist which really limited the athletic experiences that were available to me. Most little league games and practices, where I grew up, were on Saturday. In my adult life my entire life revolves around sports. I now know that athletics have made a huge difference in the life of my son. I am a firm believer in the power that athletics can have on academic success. My desire is to be able to expand the offerings of athletic disciplines that are offered. This may be a little selfish as my son participates in the Harrah Soccer Club. I would love for him to be able to represent Luther in his middle school and high school years. – JS
- Community involvement- One of the things that makes Luther so great is how the community, though small, has the collective good at heart. I will say that I don’t think that there could ever be too much community involvement at our schools. I will say that I have been disappointed the times that I have attended the school board meetings. A very small group was in attendance each time. There is a wealth of knowledge in Luther…how can we bring the experience into our school to the betterment of our students? – JS
- Faculty- As I mentioned earlier I have seen a lot of great things. – JS
- Leadership- I haven’t seen anything blaring that I would immediately address. – JS
- Board governance- I haven’t seen anything blaring that I would immediately address. – JS
LR: Let’s address “the elephant in the room:” The district has not been able to pass a bond package in the last three tries beginning in 2015, and then again twice in 2019. What are your thoughts about the school bond issue – why it has failed?
Jon Sanchez: I heard when I bought my property that Luther would never pass a bond issue. I grew up, at Lone Star, with the same issue. To me, it has always boiled down to the concept that people don’t want to pay more in taxes. I understand that! The other side of it is understating how that calculation occurs. Why do I think that the bond issue has not passed? I just feel that some people don’t see the value that the increase will create. When understanding occurs…then I feel that a bond issue will be successful.
LR: Do you have an opinion about the condition of the school buildings in relation to what the bond issues have been proposing – safe rooms, library, cafeteria, basketball gym?
Jon Sanchez: I am a person that will always want to make things better than I found them. One of the quotes that has provided inspiration in my life is by Simon Sinek, “Great leaders don’t blame the tools they are gien. Great leaders work to sharpen them.” If you are unfamiliar with books and videos by Simon Sinek I would suggest jumping on You-Tube and take a look. I feel like we can sharpen our tools to a point, but we must keep our kids safe.
LR: If you support a bond issue, what are your thoughts on what can be done to get a super majority vote passage?
Jon Sanchez: I feel the way to get the bond issue passed is we, as a community, have to show the value that the improvements will make. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. I feel that we should also break it down into smaller bites as well. Not everyone will understand the bond issue calculation until they are able to see what it actually looks like on their yearly tax bill. If we ask for a smaller package than I feel that a super majority can be obtained.
LR: Should the district try again on a bond issue and if so, what projects should be emphasized?
Jon Sanchez: Yes! Safety measures should be the first priority.
LR: What should voters know about you?
Jon Sanchez: I am dedicated to make my child’s future the best that it can possibly be. I also want to fight for those kids that don’t have someone to fight for them.
LR: In your interpretation, what is the role of a local school board?
Jon Sanchez: I equate the job of a member of the school board to my job as an HR professional. Primarily I listen, protect my company and protect my colleagues. But primarily I listen.
LR: As you have been campaigning, what are you hearing from other voters in the school district? And what are you telling them about your ideas?
Jon Sanchez: The things that I have heard is that people want the best for our kids. That is why I have a desire to be on the school board. I want the best for our kids and I want to leave it better than I found it.
LR: Any parting thoughts?
Jon Sanchez: I just want to say thank you for the support that I have received, and when I have the opportunity to serve the community I will listen. I will protect my kid, I will protect your kids and grandkids, I will protect you, but primarily I will LISTEN.
Read about candidate Kevin Boydston here.
Read about candidate Clint Rayburn here.
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