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Bailey, Davis look to lead CMS forward

South Charlotte’s Eric Davis, re-elected to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Board of Education on Tuesday, now has a new partner to help advocate for the needs of area students.

It’s his reputation and leadership in the Matthews community and relationships with local and state leaders that Paul Bailey says gave him the edge above the rest in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Board of Education District 6 race.

Both Davis, a former chairman of the board, and Bailey, current Matthews Mayor Pro Tem, became outliers Tuesday, Nov. 5, as both pulled away from opponents. Davis beat local CMS dad Edward Donaldson with 21,069 of the 25,399 votes for the District 5 seat, which covers south Charlotte north of N.C. 51 to Uptown. Donaldson had 4,262 votes.

“I thank the voters for the opportunity to continue the good work,” Davis, who will be starting his second term, said. “I think what that vote means is recognition of the progress our board and superintendent have made. It’s an honor and a responsibility we get everyday.”

Bailey beat Bolyn McClung and Doug Wrona in the race with 8,509 of the 14,244 votes in Matthews, Mint Hill, Pineville and the Ballantyne area. McClung had 3,801 votes and Wrona 1,853.

“I feel really good. I’m really pleased with the outcome and I think the margin of victory shows the campaign I was running showed I could do the job effectively for the students in the schools,” Bailey said.

In December, the two will join incumbents Rhonda Lennon, District 1, Joyce Waddell, District 3, and Tom Tate, District 4; along with member-elect Thelma Byers-Bailey, District 2, who beat incumbent Richard McElrath Sr. in the race.

Davis is excited to start more talks about the recently revised Strategic Plan, which creates academic choice for every student in the school system. Another goal for the school board, he said, will be to continue rallying for support around North Carolina and CMS teachers, adding teachers deserve to be elevated “to their rightful place in society,” and it’s going to take more than a pay raise. It’s time for teachers to receive the respect they deserve, he said.

Davis also hopes to see the continuity of the current board carry over with its two new members and says board members will all need to bring a degree of leadership and collaboration of teamwork to the table.

“I’m optimistic that the spirit of collaboration that we have been fortunate to have will continue,” Davis said. “That doesn’t mean there won’t be confrontation or disagreements, but we have to continue that spirit of teamwork and respect to make our school system successful.”

Bailey, however, is just ready to get started. As his term on the Matthews Board of Commissioners comes to a close, he’ll be working on balancing the old with the new, assisting the Matthews board anyway he can on his way out, while also beginning serious preparation for the board of education. He expects to soon meet with current District 6 representative, Amelia Stinson-Wesley, who did not seek re-election, and other board members, as well as Superintendent Heath Morrison.

“I’m going to be listening to Amelia and other board members, and the superintendent to hear and listen to their perspective and where they hope to see the school system going. I’m sure there is quite a bit of learning to do in the budget area, etc.,” Bailey said.

Bailey has helped build consensus in Matthews among leaders and residents with a vision of how the town should move forward – that’s what he hopes to bring to the table for the board of education, he said. As a person who realizes life experiences affect opinions on what should happen in the community, Bailey said it’s important to take into account all backgrounds when it comes to finding solutions.

“It’s very important to listen and to understand where people are coming from – that’s how you find a genuine solution to our issues,” he added.

Throughout his campaign, Bailey, who received endorsements from state senators Jeff Tarte and Bob Rucho, state representatives Bill Brawley and Tricia Cotham, and Mecklenburg County Commissioner Bill James and CMS Board of Education at-large member Tim Morgan to name a few, has said it’s his connections at various levels of government that would make him a great candidate for the position. Many of those relationships, he said, have been established over a long period of time while he’s served on the Matthews board. Now, he’s ready to partner with leaders to help bring to CMS what is needed to educate its students.

“The one thing I want to say to voters is that I appreciate their support in the election and I hope to serve them with the expectations they have for me. I’m excited about the opportunity to work with District 6 to move forward with CMS,” Bailey said.

Both education bonds pass

Mecklenburg County voters approved two education bonds totaling $500 million Tuesday, Nov. 5, bringing much needed upgrades, programs and new facilities to Charlotte’s two largest education outlets.

More than 74 percent of the 112,885 Mecklenburg County residents that voted on the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools bond pushed the $290 million package forward. The package will fund 17 projects across the county, to start July 2014, to renovate and/or expand some of the district’s oldest facilities, add needed magnet and career and technical programs and three new schools.

More than 71.66 percent of the 112,142 voters for the Central Piedmont Community College bond approved the $210 million package. The bond money would fund 10 projects across the college’s five campuses that also would expand, renovate and add needed programs.

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