Duval County School Board - District 4

SCHOOL BOARD - DISTRICT 4 (includes downtown and the Eastside, stretching north to the county line, then much of outer Northwest Jacksonville. Schools in this district include Darnell-Cookman School of the Medical Arts, First Coast High School, Jackson High School, A. Philip Randolph Career Academies, Ribault High School and Stanton.) 

Six candidates competed in the August primary in this nonpartisan race, with the top two candidates advancing to November's general election. 

Advancing Candidates

Cynthia Smith 

Age: 37

Candidate's family: Married/2 Kids

Occupation: Adjunct Professor/ Educational Consultant/ Entrepreneur-SBO

Education: Ed.D Education Leadership

Political experience: None

Summarize your political platform in 10 words or less.

To impact the district to improve

What do you see as the top three issues in this race?

1. Increasing Teacher Retention- Everything starts and ends with instruction in the classroom. It is a chain effect: If we don't have consistent teachers then our student's achievement will be affected-which will affect school performance-which will affect the community-which serves as little to no accountability. 
2. Safety- Safety will always be a priority in our schools. Realistically speaking, the number of students in our schools out numbers the adults. As a future board member- Policy must include routine drills. Students and staff must be fully aware of emergency situation to safety. 
3. Community and Family Engagement- When we work together we can achieve more! Parents need to feel a sense of belonging and partnerships within our schools. We have schools that are underperforming, half-filled and high teacher turnover. We need our community and faith based organizations to help aid this problem by mentoring our youth, and aid in ways that will close the gap for schools vs. community.

How can you help voters in a way that others running for this office cannot?

I have been a voice for many students over the years, still am a voice. As a teacher in the classroom with DCPS, I have been a voice for many students, as an instructional coach with DCPS, I have been a voice for teachers, as a past administrator for DCPS, I have been a voice as the leader of the school, As a candidate for this position, I use my platform to ensure others are aware and informed educationally of the importance of electing someone with vast experiences within the district. How can you effectively vote on policy if you haven't experienced first what teachers and staff experience everyday? I know what it is like to be a civil service employee and make $9 an hour, I know what it is like to be a student in a district 4 school, because of my experiences, I can share firsthand with voters.

What would you hope to be remembered for accomplishing after serving in this office?

I want to be remembered as the Board Member that believed #EducationMatters. Every policy that I vote for, every child life that I affect, I want people to say "She really demonstrates making decisions in the best interest of our children" I want people to see she is the board member that is passionate about children's future!

Website: votecynthiasmith.com
Social media: Facebook 

Darryl Willie

Age: 38

Candidate's family: Wife, 3 Daughters (4,2, 1)

Occupation: Executive Director

Education: BS - NC State, MEd - University of Georgia

Political experience: Ran for office 4 years ago

Summarize your political platform in 10 words or less.

Absolute belief, Dynamic, multifaceted, collaborative, experienced, focused on growth

What do you see as the top three issues in this race?

The top three issues in this race are school safety, school utilization, and equity in the allocation of resources-- monetary and otherwise.
How do we ensure our schools are safe from both a physical and psychological perspective-mental health is important. How do we get the highest utilization out of our schools especially ones with lower headcounts-this drives our budget. How do we pour the proper amount of resources into the schools and areas that need it most-rising tides raises all ships! 

How can you help voters in a way that others running for this office cannot?

One of the primary assets that I offer to voters is perspective. I have been intentional about gauging the needs of our city, and am committed to addressing the concerns of students and families. As a result of this commitment, I have a track record of building and maintaining coalitions among champions of educational and broader societal justice. Having worked in education across the country and with a strong network in education across the state I offer voters unique perspective on the city, state and national policy. I stay grounded because I have 3 beautiful children that will soon be in our public schools. For me this is professional obligation and a personal responsibility!

What would you hope to be remembered for accomplishing after serving in this office?

Upon the completion of my tenure in this office, I would hope to have accomplished an increase in safety, innovation, accountability, and preparation in our schools. Furthermore, I would hope to have fostered an environment conducive to creating, changing, and enforcing policies that put our students on a path to success. I intend to be remembered as a board member with foresight, who sought a proactive approach in addressing the issues that face our schools. Additionally, I would hope to be remembered for maintaining open communication with my constituents. Finally and most importantly, I hope to be remembered as an ambassador for high quality, equitable education. One who always made decisions in the best interest of our most valuable stakeholders-- our students.

Website: darrylforduval.com
Social media: Facebook / Twitter