Candidate profile: Denny Patterson

What you need to know about the April 2019 election

The 2019 municipal election is April 2. Here are some key dates and times you need to know if you're planning to vote.
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The 2019 municipal election is April 2. Here are some key dates and times you need to know if you're planning to vote.

Name: Denny Patterson

Age: 27

Town: Granite City

Occupation: Freelance Journalist & Archival Digitization Specialist for Ancestry.com

Position Seeking: Granite City School Board Member

Campaign website: facebook.com/dennypattersonGCSD9

Why are you running and why should people vote for you? I am running because I want to help and be more involved with the Granite City community. Although I am younger than most of my running mates, I believe my youth can bring a fresh perspective and I can still relate to many of our students because I was once one of them, not too long ago. I want to do whatever it takes to help improve our schools and ensure that students are receiving the education they deserve. My leadership skills and board experience can be beneficial to developing new ideas and strategies that will make our students and schools thrive. I promise I will fight for you and make sure your concerns are taken into consideration. Lastly, I have two nephews and a niece who are Granite City students, and I want to set an example and help pave the way for their success.

What are the most important issues the school district faces, and how would you approach them? The school district is currently facing several important issues, but one I would like to touch on is the fact that we have many teachers and administrators, including Superintendent Greenwald, who will soon be leaving or retiring. It is the Board’s duty to make sure qualified candidates fill these positions based on their merit, not favoritism. The best possible candidates need to be selected. Also, when it comes to selecting the next superintendent, I feel the community has a right to weigh in as well, which brings me to another issue. I feel there is sometimes a lack of communication between the Board and the community, especially parents who are sending their children to our schools. I would like to improve these relationships and see the Board become more transparent. The Board also needs to work together to improve our absentee situation and investigate more methods and ways on how to make sure our schools remain safe and secure.

Under what circumstances would you vote to raise property taxes? Raising property taxes is not really an option for Granite City, and I would only vote on it as a last resort. Taxes are already too high, and I will want to do everything possible to make sure we are spending money in a responsible way. Any tax increase would be an absolute burden to our community.

What are your goals for the district/what do you want to accomplish? I am first and foremost committed to ensuring that our schools are a welcoming and safe environment for students. I would like to work more with teachers and administrators on implementing more anti-bullying policies because bullying is still a serious issue. I cannot tell you how many parents have told me that their child has been a victim of bullying. I feel that the signs of bullying sometimes go unnoticed, and we need to be more aware of what to look for. I have also mentioned in my campaign that I would like to expand vocational programs because some students do not need a four-year degree in order to pursue the career they want. We should look at trade schools and apprenticeships. Additionally, every other subject being taught should receive just as much focus as well. If students are not succeeding, I would like to examine and strategize on what we can do to help the students. Since attendance is extremely low, I want to work with everyone in the district and find out why students are not coming to school and figure out solutions on what we can do to change that. In terms of tax dollars, I want to make sure they are being used responsibly on programs and activities that will benefit students. By no means should tax dollars being going straight into one’s pocket, or should they be used for one specific program which will result in several other programs to be cut. I will do everything in my power to help improve our schools.

What is your position on the proposed increase in minimum wage for teachers in Illinois? I support it. I feel that teachers are not being paid well, and if that continues, we are going to lose a lot of fantastic educators. Teachers go above and beyond, and they are often unappreciated. I feel offering competitive pay would be a step in the right direction.