By ZEINAB NAJM
HEIGHTS — The Dearborn Heights District 7 Board of Education race on the Nov. 3 general election ballot will have five candidates seeking four, four-year terms.
Candidates are incumbent Mandy Diroff, along with Bill Dishroon, Nathaniel Cann, Latanya Gater and Derek Wall. Trustees Vickie Bracken, Phil Shannon and Velma Truitt are not seeking re-election and Diroff’s term is set to expire, leaving the vacant seats.
Cann, 46, works as an IT consultant; Dishroom, 50, is a Dearborn Heights reserve police officer and employees in public works; and Gater, 33, a mother one, is chairwoman of AFSCME Council Local 25.
Each candidate was asked to respond to questions with responses limited to a 120-word count for each. All responses exceeding that limit were edited.
Diroff and Wall did not respond by press time.
Question 1: List your education, experience or skills you posses that make you a qualified candidate.
Cann: Three years Baker College of Allen Park: Information Technology Systems. I worked as an enrollment director enrolling students and helping provide their path to success as young adults at Arress Academy in Southfield, where I also taught A+ and Network+ classes. That gave me a great insight on what youth students will need as they move on to major and minor steps in their lives.I have also raised two successful students through the district and have one more in sixth grade, so I feel I can model my own parenting skills onto my position on the board.
Dishroon: I have approximately 50 credit hours from Schoolcraft College with my focus on Criminal Justice. I have experience in my personal life as well professional life that I believe makes me a great school board candidate. Some of my experience includes being elected as the president of the union several times and serving in this position for six years. I am also a Dearborn Heights Police reserve officer and have served on a commission for the city of Dearborn Heights. All of these things have shown me how to deal with union members, city council members, administration as well as the general public in different settings as well as under unique circumstances. All skills that are essential for a board member.
Gater: Born and raised in Detroit has certainly equipped me to be resilient but most importantly it showed me why it’s crucial to value education. As a graduate of Cass Tech, Tennessee State University and University of Detroit Mercy, I took education seriously. I knew it was my way to achieve greatness for myself and others. Now as a Dearborn Heights resident for the past eight years I’ve observed the need for more diversity equity and inclusion in the educational system and the overall improvement and accessibility of mental health services for students.
Question 2: If (re)elected, what are three issues facing your constituents you would work to address and how?
Cann: The ability to address the concerns of the public a little better where the community does not feel their concerns are not falling on closed ears. I would like to work closely with the superintendent as she implements new studies of technologies to stay with the growing world and social society and to make sure we address the lack of studies of people of color. I think the board should work more with the administrators and the students to hear those concerns of what they need to make sure we grow enrollment and retain the level of teachers that will keep our district competitive.
Dishroon: One of the areas of concern to me that was recently brought to my attention was the bullying issue in schools. We have to teach the students to be kind and understanding. We need to council the one’s that are causing the problems and get to the root of the problem and solve it. De-escalation, training, intervention and education are the keys to fighting the bullying problem in the district. I’m also concerned about staff retention. There has been an exodus of staff and teachers leaving the district lately. What kind of message does that send to the students if staff doesn’t want to work here in the district? Better compensation, better communication and better working conditions are a must if we expect to keep our outstanding staff.
Gater: With the D7 school district population becoming much more diverse each day, it is my personal and professional belief that we are doing a disservice as a community if we do not implement educational policies that empowers all children and families in this city irregardless of race, religion, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, and academic and mental health needs. If elected, I would seek to implement the school based model to address mental health matters. Full and consistent collaboration with city and state stakeholders to secure funding is key to explore the need for more progressive curriculums and increased support for staff.
Question 3: Why are you seeking (re)election? Why should people vote for you?
Cann: I want to provide the highest service to my community. I have been in this community for just under 15 years and my children have been going to D7 schools for over 18 years. I have noticed our community is growing with different races and ages and I want to be the voice for the people I serve. As our families grow I want to improve our school board and schools so we are the best district that a new family can feel we are growing and can provide the learning their children can have success in this changing world.
Dishroon: I have been active in the district and see the necessity for change. I have a daughter in the district so I have a vested interest in the districts success. People should vote for me because I’m honest, objective, caring and only concerned about doing what’s best for the students in the district. I’m also the voice of reason and willing to attempt to bridge the divide that appears to exist between the board, the administration as well as the constituents of the district.
Gater: If elected as a member of the D7 school board of education, this is what I will bring to the table, to advocate for our children. Both professionally and personally, with dignity, respect, transparency, and accountability.
For more information on the election or candidates go to www.lwvddh.org or www.vote411.org.
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at [email protected])