November 18, 2016
Dear family, friends, coworkers, investors, supporters and voters,
When I began this campaign for Hillsborough County School Board District 7, I offered my skill set of 30+ years of accounting and financial management experience to the voters of Hillsborough County to help manage an organization with a $3billion budget that is the largest employer in the County.
My wife, Judy, was my rock, my sounding board, my webmaster and taskmaster and the best campaign manager I could ask for. We built "Cathy’s Citchen Cabinet" with loyal friends that contributed extraordinary talents that succeeded in placing us 1st in the August 30th primary of 8 candidates after only 78 days of campaigning. If you wore a Cathy James tshirt, waved a sign, told a coworker or friend to vote for me, invested in the campaign or voted for me, thank you.
On the campaign trail we talked about student success as a community success, funding equity at our schools, racial and ethnic disparities in administration of schools and the district, separation of church and state, the role of charter schools and school vouchers, living wages for all workers, universal bathrooms, safe spaces for our students, making sure special needs students receive the services they are entitled to, hot classrooms, aging buses, and the list goes on and on.
Unfortunately, I did not earn enough votes to serve as our next District 7 School Board Member. Although I am disappointed at the outcome, I met so many wonderful parents, teachers, education advocates and members of our community. Thank you to all the organizations that sponsored candidate forums or other events that allowed me to meet voters and hear their concerns.
Today I end this campaign. I appreciate all the support, prayers and good wishes I have received since election night as we awaited the state authorized machine recount. Your encouragement has allowed me to keep my chin up.
Just remember that candidates may come and go, but advocates never stop speaking truth to power. I hope we meet again along the journey.
What, in your opinion, is the most serious problem facing our county’s schools? What would be your solution?
The financial health of the district is the most serious problem. It permeates every aspect of the school day from the moment students are picked up on aging buses, the temperature of the classrooms, the fear and morale crushing effect of possibly being one of the 1,700 employees that a Texas consulting firm has proposed being fired. The financial problems have been caused by the deliberate actions of the legislature by putting more funding burden on local governments. Dollars have been diverted from public schools to for-profit charter schools and vouchers.
The first solution I would propose would be to create a Finance Committee that would be comprised of School Board members, appointees of the Superintendent, and members of the community that have expertise in finance and management as well as subject matter experts for facilities, transportation, etc. We need to start at each operating unit, our schools, and build the organization from the bottom up.