Shewbart, Winchester vie for BOE seat
Editor’s Note: Getting to know your candidate will be a regular feature informing you about our local candidates leading to the March primary.
This week’s featured candidates are seeking the local office of county school board member in District 5, an office that covers the Red Bay area and is currently held by Ralph Winchester who will face Red Bay resident Mike Shewbart in the democratic primary election on March 13. Both Winchester and Shewbart will run as democrats.
Winchester has served as the District 5 school board member for the past five years but he has been working with the school system for the past 35 years as a school bus driver and a substitute teacher.
He said his experience working with the schools and working to serve District 5 this past term are what makes him the most qualified for the position.
“I think the children and grandchildren of the people who live in District 5 need a person that cares about their education, wellbeing, livelihood, morals and their character not only during their school years but after their education and when they join the workforce,” Winchester said.
“As the board member for District 5, I have worked with very little money but continued to give them the best education possible. My morals, my character, my loyalty to the people of District 5 and always keeping their children and grandchildren my number one priority make me the best candidate for this position.”
Shewbart, who had the encouragement from his friends, family and children, said he decided to run for the District 5 school board member position because he thought there needed to be some changes made in the way the Franklin County School System is managed.
“As an involved parent of two children in the Red Bay School District and from my wide variety of community involvement, I have direct knowledge of the needs, challenges and deficiencies our school system is facing,” Shewbart said. “I want to work hard for the citizens of this district to attract, retain and assist the best teachers, administrators and support personnel possible. I want the opportunity to work with other elected officials in the county to bring new and innovative technologies to our classrooms that have been absent for far too long.
“I am running for school board to make a difference – a difference in the lives of the children of our schools and a difference in the lives of our school staff. For these reasons, I feel that our school district needs a new perspective and vision so we can make the school system much better and I believe I am the best candidate to install a new direction and leadership in District 5.”
Winchester said managing the school the past five years in the midst of a poor economy with very little financial help from the state hasn’t always been easy but it’s a task he’s willing to see through to the end.
“The recession and proration have kept us from finishing all our goals, but there are many things I would like to see become a reality in our schools,” Winchester said. “I would like to see our children have new books, technology in the classrooms and a new school, but you and I both know that takes money.
“The most important issue is that these children have the very best education possible and if the people of District 5 will continue to vote for and support me, I will continue to be their full-time board of education member who will always put their children first.”
Shewbart also said the children in District 5 are his biggest concern since they will be the future of Franklin County.
“To be effective, I believe a school board member must be a team player, working cooperatively and constructively with the administrators, teaching staff and support personnel to accomplish the greater goals of the school,” he said.
“We need good management practices to get the very most from the tax dollars we have available. I have operated a personal business for several years and will take a business approach in operating the school system. I have created budgets, funded budgets and lived by budgets and I understand the accounting system that is used in the Board of Education.”
Winchester grew up in Pleasant Site and Red Bay and had seven brothers and sisters who all graduated from Red Bay and currently has several nieces and nephews that attend Red Bay. He said this connection to the area and to the people in his community gives him a strong desire to be a voice for the children of his friends, family and neighbors.
“My wife, Cheryl Winchester, and I have been married for 42 years and we had two boys that passed away at one week old and three days old,” he said. “Through my time spent in this area and in the school system, we now have thousands of children that we love and cherish and we want the very best for your children and grandchildren.
“I realize that our school building may not be the best, but our children, along with the teachers, support personnel and staff members who show such love and care for these children, make our school one of the best in the state of Alabama.
“I am asking the parents and grandparents of Red Bay and the surrounding are to let me continue to serve as the board member for District 5 and to pray for me as I seek re-election and the opportunity to continue to serve them in the future.”
Shewbart, who also grew up in Red Bay and graduated from Red Bay High School, has two children, Brooke, 11, and Lane, 9. He is an active member of the community serving in several capacities such as a member Red Bay Education Committee, chairman of the Red Bay Parks and Recreation Committee, vice-president of the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce, director of the Red Bay Parks and Recreation Department, and several other capacities as well.
“The greatest asset we have are the children of Red Bay and Franklin County,” he said. “We need to insure we have a quality education for those that enter the workforce and for those that decide to go to a technical college, a community college or a four year university.
“Together, we can make a difference where all of our children have the best learning environment possible. Together, we can seek a better education for our children and I humbly ask for your vote and support on March 13.”