Meet Your School Board Candidates: Part 1 – Opening Statements

On Nov. 6 the Dexter School District will vote to fill two available 6-year terms on the School Board. There are three candidates and we get to choose two.

In a forum held Oct. 15 at Creekside Intermediate School, the three candidates had the chance to tell us why they would make a good school board member for Dexter Schools. The three candidates are Dick Lundy, Rob Mitzel, and Mara Greatorex.

The forum was moderated by Dexter Forum co-moderators, Karl Fink and John Hansen, in much the same way the Dexter Forum itself is conducted.  Karl is a retired judge and John is a former Dexter school superintendent and state representative. Candidates were first given the chance to tell the audience a little about themselves and their motivation in running for school board.

The purpose of the forum was to “listen and learn” Karl told the audience and explained that after the candidates had a chance to speak, they would be asked questions. “The questions are not to be argumentative or personal,” Karl said, “but intended to probe what a candidate has said or perhaps a question on another topic.”

In part 1 of this article, I’ve transcribed each candidate’s opening statements telling us about themselves and their reasons for wanting to serve on the school board. I’ve printed them in the order that they spoke at the forum. I’ve made small cosmetic editorial corrections to smooth out the difference between spoken word and printed word.

Dick Lundy

“I want to thank you all for your interest in our schools. Thanks to Karl and John for hosting this. I would like to refer you all to my website because there’s a lot of information about my background experience that we won’t have time to cover tonight.

“I’m running for reelection because I’d like to continue the commitment to excellence that we already have in our school district. We have a great school district and I’ve been part of the team that’s guided us there. I’ve been involved in a number of other community organizations and nonprofits and the cross pollination I’ve learned from serving other organizations has been invaluable while serving on the school board.

“I’ve been in the community since the late 1960s. I have two kids that graduated from Dexter starting in kindergarten. They’re both U of M graduates. I have six grandchildren that started in the school as kindergarteners. One is from the class of 2016. Another one graduated in 2010 and went to Indiana University where she graduated number one in her class in philanthropic management.

“I volunteered for many years in various school activities including, helping with reading, project assistance, field trips and seventh grade camp chaperoning. I’ve been a long time supporter of Dexter Educational Foundation and E4DS. I received a Master Board Member recognition from MSBE.

“There are three tiered areas that I would like to highlight that I championed since my initial election to the board. The first is in 1977 when I became involved in school activities, the teachers were on strike. After I was elected, one of my highest priorities was to generate a much friendlier, more supportive atmosphere. I hope by now everybody knows we have a more trusting collaborative, respected style of working with our employees for many decades now. If you look at the long time relationship with the teachers union, you’ll realize how far we’ve come. How valuable it is to provide a good positive environment for kids to learn in, and procedures to enjoy coming to school every day.

“Second, I’d like to highlight the financial stability and integrity of the district. When I started, the fund balance was $4,000. Today it is over $7,000,000. We’ve worked hard to accomplish that. The fund balance is the schools savings account and is used in many ways. It funds new and innovative startup programs such as all-day kindergarten. Our designated reserves allow us to cover non-recurring needs for equipment and material and Facilities. And it is our rainy day fund to be used when unpredictable things happen like when the state decides to take away money in the middle of the school year.

“The ability to maintain short term stability in programming and long-term stability financially, along with seed money for new programs, is a result of the way we’ve managed our fund balance for many years.

“Third, I’d like to highlight our bond equities. I’ve been involved in seven bond issues which built three new schools, repurposed a school, and upgraded all of our buildings and facilities in the district. We’ve done this with quality results, on schedule, and within budget.

“I’ve highlighted these areas because they are foundational to the culture which allows us to have a premier school district for our community and allows us to focus on our mission to champion learning for everyone. Again I encourage you to go to my website to learn more thank you.”

Rob Mitzel

“Good evening everyone. I’ve been in the Dexter Community for 16 years, living in Webster Township. I’m married and have 6 kids that range in age from 3-years-old to 20. Wyatt was in the class of 2016 and is in the Marine reserves right now. Lanna graduated last year and is going to Oakland University for mechanical engineering. I have Sophia that’s a senior. Raleigh is a freshman and Cami is in 7th grade. Trent still hasn’t started preschool yet. He’ll be the class of 2034.

“I’ll have kids in the school district, that started in 2005, for about 29 years. That’s one of the reasons I’d like to stay on the school board. I have a vested interest and I really want to make sure that Dexter maintains good quality education.

“I have a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Engineering, a Masters in Civil Engineering, and also a Master’s in Engineering Management. I’ve worked at Ford Motor Company for 25 years, currently as an Information Technology Supervisor. I’ve had a long history of public service. I started out in high school on the City of Novi Parks and Recreation Needs Assessment Committee. Immediately after college, I became a planning commissioner in Novi. I was elected to City Council at age 23 where I served a four-year term. After city council I was on the Parks and Recreation Commission, so I’ve had quite a bit of experience with in municipal city government there.

“After taking a job transfer out of state for a couple of years, we moved back to the Dexter area. Since that time I was involved in Webster Township on the Farm and Open Space Preservation Board and the Planning Commission, with several years as Planning Commission chairman.

“In 2016, I was appointed to the School District Board of Education to fill out the remainder of Bonnie Everdeen’s term. I’m currently the Secretary of the School Board and serve on the Facilities Committee while we’re working on the implementation of the bond issue and also the Policy Committee.

“I feel like I bring a unique perspective to the School Board. I feel like I’m highly qualified to remain a board member and represent everyone here and also keep working for excellence in Dexter schools. I have enough experience now to have built up an effective working relationship with administration and also other board members, but I’m also new enough on the board that I can still bring a fresh perspective. So I look forward to your support on November 6. Thank you.”

Mara Greatorex

“Hi everyone my name is Myra Greatorex. Here’s a bit about me: My family and I moved to Dexter in 2006. There were several reasons why we chose to move to Dexter. One was because my husband’s family moved to Dexter from Pinckney in 1995. We knew the city. Also, we loved that we would be close to family.

“The second reason was because my mother-in-law told us that Dexter schools were great. We had two small children at the time, so great schools were a high priority. By that time in my marriage I had learned to always trust my mother-in-law. Those two small children, we moved to Dexter with, are now our two tall children. My daughter Kyler is a sophomore at Dexter High School and my son Luke is an 8th grader at Mill Creek. They are my main inspiration for running for the school board.

“With that said, my main experience as a parent is my greatest asset I can bring to the school board. I am the mother of two very different learners, so I have two different experiences of being a parent of students. I believe in the innovative methods used in the Dexter schools that they both are getting the best education. Dexter has been ahead of the curve in so many areas and I want our district to keep that momentum. I believe that we need to value that all students don’t learn in the same way. I believe that we need to support our teachers who have are kids best interest at heart.

“I have seen the care that Dexter teachers have for their students first hand over the years. I have experience in volunteering in the Dexter Community Schools in many capacities over the years. I was on the leadership team for the Cornerstone Parent-Teacher Group for 4 years. And while I was on the CPTG, as we lovingly called it, I worked with all the parents and teachers to organize events that both enhanced our school community and raised money for teacher grants.

“I love the collaborative work that we did in the Cornerstone Parent-Teacher Group. We worked together for the common goal of creating a positive environment for the students and families. And when elected to school board, I look forward to returning to my roots and working again in a group toward the common goal of providing all the students in Dexter excellent educational opportunities.

In addition to the classroom and also seventh grade camp, which is definitely an experience of itself, from 2009 to 2016 I was involved in the after-school program Girls on the Run as coach at Wiley and Creekside.

“I was also the coach for the Millcreek girls. It was through this program that I gained even more experience with Dexter schools and families and with Community Education. I also had the privilege of witnessing the beginnings of some outstanding careers of Dexter female athletes. It was really a privilege to work with those girls.

“I experienced working with my teams with common goals outside of those environments. I served a year on the Dexter Little League Board as Secretary. I’ve been Secretary on my neighborhood’s homeowners association for the last 7 years and if you have ever served and an HOA board, you know that’s a lot of experience.

“As for my own educational background I have a BA in Telecommunications from Michigan State University, go green. In addition to being a mom, I am a fitness instructor at the Dexter Wellness Center and at a crossfit gym in Ann Arbor. Throughout my years as a parent, volunteer, and working in Dexter, I’ve experienced this as an awesome community and we are passionate about our kids. I have loved serving our community and I am ready to serve it on a larger scale. I believe I can serve a fresh voice for the community and because I have pretty flexible work hours I can devote a lot of time to be the very best board member that I can be. Thank you all for listening.”

In part 2 of this article, we look at the questions each candidate was asked by the forum moderators.

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