Candidate profile: Nekisha Williams Omotola

Name: Nekisha Williams Omotola

Age: 42

Town: Glen Carbon

Occupation: Marketing consultant

Position seeking: Edwardsville District 7 School Board (in-township, 2-year term)

Campaign website: nekishaomotolafordistrict7.com

Why are you running and why should people vote for you? I am a current board member and a mother of two District 7 elementary school students. My daughters are in 3rd and 5th grades at Woodland Elementary, so I am personally invested in the success of our school district. I have served our community through involvement in Goshen and Woodland Elementary PTOs, Girl Scouts of Southern Illinois, the Friends of the Wildey Theatre Board and the Madison County Child Advocacy Center Friends Board. I have more than 20 years of experience in marketing and public relations. I was previously a senior marketing manager at Twentieth Century Fox and the Deputy Director of Marketing for the City of New Orleans. My educational background and work experiences have helped me to develop leadership, communication and financial management expertise that will greatly benefit the board of education. My husband, Aaron Omotola, is the only sports medicine board certified orthopedic surgeon in Madison County. He volunteers as the team doctor for regional schools, including Edwardsville High School and Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

What are the most important issues the school district faces, and how would you approach them? We need to continue fulfilling the promises of Proposition E by paying down debt, updating our curriculum and strengthening our school security. At the same time, we need to aggressively expand technology in our classrooms and create opportunities for career and technical education. I believe that we can fund technology advancements and a career and technical education program through strategic partnerships with local businesses, colleges and community members. Our community is very engaged and values education. We need to tap into the wealth of resources available to us in the Metro East and St. Louis areas to enhance our students’ educational experiences and maximize their opportunities for career exploration.

Under what circumstances would you vote to raise property taxes? I would vote to raise property taxes if we have exhausted all other options. I believe we can be creative and strategic by building relationships with community members to raise funds and gain support for our school programs and initiatives. I have had promising conversations with parents, local business owners and legislators who are willing to contribute, financially or otherwise, to support our students.

What are your goals for the district/what do you want to accomplish? My goals are to be a good steward of taxpayer dollars, build strategic partnerships with local businesses and colleges, create opportunities for career and technical education, update and expand technology, support our teachers with professional development opportunities, foster open, honest communication with all stakeholders, and collaborate with the board and superintendent to act in the best interest of all children. As a current board member, I have made strides toward greater communication and increased transparency. I welcome and value input from all stakeholders. Everyone in our community should have a voice. I would like to continue working hard to improve communication and bring all of my goals to fruition. I am diligent, focused and results-oriented, and I am honored to have the opportunity to work on behalf of all children in District 7.

What is your position on the proposed increase in minimum wage for teachers in Illinois? I was excited to see that the House bill to raise the minimum teacher salary passed out of committee. Recruitment and retention of teachers is critical. I believe that raising the minimum salary will make a rewarding teaching career even more attractive. We need to make sure our teachers feel valued, and I absolutely support increasing their salaries.