TIPP CITY — In a 3-2 vote, the Tipp City Board of Education passed a motion to hold a “Meet the Candidates” night at Thursday’s special meeting.
The forum, which will be held as part of the board’s work session on Tuesday, Oct. 12, will give candidates running for two open board seats the opportunity to introduce themselves and answer questions that current members of the Tipp City Board of Education have come up with.
There are two additional “Meet the Candidates” nights that will be held by the Tippecanoe Gazette and Tippecanoe High School’s AP Government class, led by teacher Randy Sentman with questions from Tippecanoe seniors. The Tippecanoe Gazette’s forum will be held Tuesday, Oct. 19 and the AP Government class’ forum will be held Thursday, Oct. 21.
The parameters for the Tipp City Board of Education’s forum is as follows:
• Each candidate will get a 60 second introduction
• Each board member can submit one response question; advance notice of questions is up to individual board members
• The treasurer and superintendent are both permitted to submit one response question each
• Each board member gets two “lightning” or rapid-fire questions
• Candidates will rotate answer order so that the same candidate isn’t answering first
• Candidates will have 60 seconds to answer extended response questions
• No in-person audience; the forum will be broadcast live to the district’s YouTube channel
Board members Joellen Heatherly and Simon Patry voted against the motion. Heatherly said that she felt that it wasn’t the board’s place to hold a candidates forum when there are two other forums being held in the community, and Patry felt that it would be improper to hold one and ask candidates questions.
“We have no business involving ourselves in anything with candidates. Anything that we ask (…) is poor optics for our community. We don’t need to do anything more as a board that creates any sort of controversy in this community,” Heatherly said. “Any perception of us being involved in an election will only create more outrage from our community.”
Board President Theresa Dunaway said that it was important the board host a candidate’s forum because of their first-hand perspective of the work that goes into working on the school board. Vice President Anne Zakkour and board member Corine Doll held similar views.
With that perspective, Patry said he would be open to the board submitting their question to the AP Government class’ forum with said questions being provided to the candidates in advance. Dunaway emphasized that she felt candidates shouldn’t receive the questions ahead of time and that she wants to see how they think on their feet.
“I was not given the questions ahead of time. We’ve never recieved the questions ahead of time. If a person is willing to run for a seat on this school board and invest four years of their life, this should be very well-thought out,” Dunaway said. “I want to see how they think on their feet. That’s going to tell me a lot of how broad of a scope they’ve thought about this job. There’s a lot of things that go into this job that people don’t think about.”
After the vote, Patry and Heatherly left the meeting, while Doll, Dunaway and Zakkour stayed and came up with the parameters for the board’s candidates forum.