School board election coming

By ASHLEY WOLSTONCROFT
Free-Lance Editor
 
Friday, January 20 is the last day to apply for voter registration in order to be eligible to vote in the upcoming annual school election. The election will take place on February 14. 
Henryetta School District will be voting on two school board seats on that date. Gary Clason and Casey Jones are the candidates for office seat four, while James Williams and David Bullard will run for the office two position. 
Any person who is a United States citizen, resident of Oklahoma and at least 18-years-old can apply to become registered voters, according to Ashley Carnes, Secretary of the Okmulgee County Election Board. 
“Those who aren't registered or need to change their registration may apply by filling out and mailing an Oklahoma Voter Registration Application form in time for it to be postmarked no later than midnight Friday, January 20,” she said. “Applications postmarked after that time will be accepted and processed, but not until after the February 20 election.”
Everyone who submits an application to become a registered voter will receive a confirmation letter from the board within 30 business days. 
“The response is either a voter identification card listing the new voter's precinct number and polling place location or a letter that explains the reason or reasons the application for voter registration was not approved,” Carnes said. 
According to Carnes, Oklahoma Voter Registration Application forms are available at the County Election Board located in the Okmulgee County Courthouse, 314 W. 7th Street. Most post offices, tag agencies and public libraries in the county also have forms available. Applications can be found online at www.elections.ok.gov. 
The following is a brief profile submitted by each candidate. 
 
Gary Clason
The person whom will strive to do their very best as a child advocate and that has proven themselves as a dedicated public servant whom citizens in Henryetta could trust and elect as on of its school board members is Gary Clason.
I am a product of the public school system. I graduated from high school in Kingfisher High. I have since been exposed to a multitude of different educational styles. I've down traditional brick and mortar schooling along with challenge education or CLEP testing and online courses. I gained my LPN degree through the vo-tech system. I then did CLEP testing to get my Associate of Science of Nursing (RN). Then I attained my Bachelors in the Science of Nursing (BSN) degree online.
I was the Oklahoma state president for Health Occupational Students of America from 1991-1992. I was the Vice-Mayor of Henryetta from 2001-2003 and the Mayor of Henryetta from 2003-2005. I was the chairman for the Henryetta Economical Development Authority from 2010-2015. 
I want to be a member of the Henryetta School Board because I believe in our school system. However, I know there is a need for improvement. I promise to ask the hard questions that need answering. I will work hard with other members as well as school staff. I will be the voice of the students and parents that need help with a school issue. Vote Gary Clason February 14th. Remember a vote for Clason is not a wasted vote.
 
Casey Jones
My name is Casey Jones, and I would sincerely appreciate your vote of support for Henryetta School Board Seat #4.
To understand my goals and vision for our school, you first must understand a little about me. I was born and raised here in Henryetta. My son is currently in Kindergarten at Henryetta Schools, and I look forward to my two-year-old daughter also being proud to be a Knight in the future. I am passionately invested in this school and community. This is home. It feels like it’s sink or swim, and I am ready to see Henryetta Schools be the best of the best!
My past life experiences have helped prepare me to be a successful board member and asset to our district. I was raised by my grandparents, Rolland and Bruenell Ellis, who instilled in me a strong work ethic and love for our little town. They had me in church at the Henryetta Nazarene Church every time the doors were open, and built in me a faith in God and showed me the importance of giving back. I attended Henryetta Schools for 13 years, graduating in 1999. Through my school years, I was fortunate to have some extraordinary teachers and coaches. I was a little rough around the edges and ornery back then, but these educators never gave up on me and kept pushing me toward success. Due largely in part to their support and encouragement, I was able to secure a college baseball scholarship and graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree in Occupation Safety from Northeastern State University. These mentors were essential to my successes, and I have come to understand on a very personal level the importance of securing and retaining high quality teachers, coaches, and administrators.
During college I met Leslie, my wonderful wife of ten years. After graduating, I worked in the area of safety and environmental management for brief stints with the Muscogee Creek Nation, Mid-Continent Concrete, and FlintCo before securing a safety position with Baker Hughes in Claremore. While there, I greatly matured as a professional under some amazing leadership. I was able to implement a safety program there that ended up breaking the plants record for all-time hours worked without a recordable injury. I bring this safety background with me to the school board where I can be helpful in addressing safety concerns regarding our students, our most prized possessions. After spending about three years in Claremore, I was encouraged to take a promotion in Houston, but was sincerely ready to make my way back home to Henryetta to raise my family. I accepted a position as Electronic Games Analyst with One Fire Casino in Okmulgee, and we bought our home in Henryetta. Shortly after, I was promoted to Business Strategy Manager where I assisted the General Manager with revenue generating aspects of the casino. During my final year at One Fire Casino, we broke their all-time record for yearly revenue. After two and a half years at One Fire, I was offered the Operations Manager position at Okemah Casino, where I currently am today. During my employment here, we have enjoyed many successes. The top two revenue years in Okemah Casino’s history have happened since I arrived. During a time when our schools are extremely under-funded, I have the business experience and skills to look at those numbers to help find areas of opportunity allowing us to support new programs and growth for students, as well as provide job security for our faculty and staff.
Since moving back to Henryetta, I have had the privilege of coaching my son’s little league team for the past three years and been a volunteer for the Henryetta Youth Baseball Softball Association. I was also a volunteer coach for the Henryetta High School baseball team during the Spring 2015 season. I am a member of the Henryetta Church of Christ, where my family serves and worships. I have attended many school activities, athletic events, fundraisers, and planning meetings. Through these ventures, I have discovered we have awesome kids in our community and many, many supportive parents/guardians who, like me, want the very best for our kids. –And that is my goal—the best! It’s not just lip service to get your vote. I truly to my core believe Henryetta Schools can be the best of the best!
Our students deserve the best, our teachers and staff deserve the best, we as citizens deserve the best for our families. Just like you, I want my children – our children – to have the highest quality education they can have. I want to see us as an “A” school on those state report cards. It has been awesome to serve on the school board this past year and see first-hand the new Kindergarten Center with space especially for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics) projects put into place – something no other students in the county have access to. A very similar building is going in up near the board office for our high school and middle school kids. I want to see us continue going down the path of providing academic opportunities like these for our students. I want our students to have a wide range of extracurricular choices, and I want to equip them with educators who are willing and capable of pushing them to success. I want our athletic programs to be successful. I think we need to reevaluate how our athletic programs are structured to ensure our student athletes have the best opportunity to be successful. I want to see new athletic programs developed and funded. I want teachers, coaches, and staff lining up for miles to get a job in our district, and I want our high-quality faculty and staff to feel so appreciated and confident in our school system that they never want to leave to go to another district.
Most of you probably already know that I was appointed to a vacated seat on the school board last year and have been serving on the school board since then. So, why have I been on the board for a year and not seen all these visions come to fruition? Professional and life experience tells me that you have to break down big goals into manageable chunks, set your expectations, empower people and give them frequent and honest feedback on their progress. I can help us do that; I’ve already been doing that. Sometimes things are behind the scenes. Sometimes, it takes a lot of small steps to reach a big goal…but I’m on your side. I stand in support of our students, teachers, staff, community. I have big dreams for our school, and quite honestly I’m way too proud to be a Knight and not see them through. 
Together, let’s achieve more than we ever have, provide more than we ever have, be more than we ever have been.
 
David Bullard
My name is David Bullard, and I am running for a seat on the Henryetta Public School’s Board of Education. As a new candidate, I wish to give you more than just a list of my goals. I was born and raised in Henryetta. I live and work here. I am raising my own family here, and the success of this school system means a great deal to me.
To offer some background information about myself, I am a graduate of Dewar schools, and I earned my higher education hours through Oklahoma State University. I have dedicated the last 26 years to bettering the community of Henryetta through service in various departments within the city, with my last 20 years of service in the Fire Department. I have been married to my wife, Stacy Bullard, for 25 years, and we have two children, Shelby, who is a junior at Henryetta high school and Tanner, who is a 7th grader at Henryetta middle school. I had the pleasure of coaching little league softball as well as pee wee football, each for 5 years. I believe it is important to show support for the students of our district, and I do so by attending as many athletic events, performances, and school activities as possible. I have also been fortunate enough to build rapport with many of the students of this district through fire prevention week.
In addition to my close ties to this community and school district, I also believe my knowledge and experience will allow me to be an asset to the Board and district alike. My experience as the Fire Chief has allowed me to build a working relationship with the school officials. I have and continue to assist the district with public safety relations, and I feel my actions have and will continue to show that I have the best interest of the students, teachers and staff in mind. For example, I worked with school officials to obtain FEMA funding after flooding in the Early Childhood building. Additionally, I have experience serving as the city’s safety officer and emergency management director, the Henryetta Housing Authority Commissioner, and a member of the Okmulgee County EMS Board of Directors. I am also the Okmulgee County Firefighter Association President. I believe all of these things will help me to serve the district and the Board in the best way possible.
I am committed to the improvement of quality education, and I am willing to communicate with all stakeholders involved to do so. I believe that members of our board must be willing to listen to parents, staff, students, as well as the community. There must be open communication. According to the Office of Educational Quality and Accountability’s District Profile Report, there has been a continual decline in Henryetta Public Schools over the last five years, across the board, including student enrollment, teacher retention, and the course selections offered at the high school level. These issues, as well as the decline in the success of our athletics program, are some of the issues I plan to address. I will honor the traditions of Henryetta Public Schools, while being highly motivated by innovative ideas, improving the culture of our district. In addition, I plan to work toward implementing new and improved academic programs, including ensuring that we offer one of the best S.T.E.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) programs in the state, new and improved athletic programs, improved safety measures, and the implementation of Ag and/or FFA programs. I firmly believe that all of these are attainable goals for our district.
I am committed to the success of Henryetta Public Schools. While I realize that we are doing some things well, we always have room for improvement. I believe our children deserve more, and my tenacious approach will ensure that the items I have outlined will not simply become campaign talk. I value honesty and integrity, and I am committed to seeing these goals realized. Furthermore, I respect and honor the ideas of others while standing steadfast on building a culture of trust, respect, and leadership.  I believe that I am your choice for change.  In closing, I respectfully request your consideration and support for this position on the Henryetta School Board.
 
James Williams
James Williams has been a member of the Henryetta School Board since 2011, where he currently serves as president. He is also director of the Muscogee Creek Nation Environmental Services and has been employed there for over 23 years. 
During the past five years of serving on the school board, the citizens of Henryetta and Henryetta Public Schools has accomplished passing a $8.5 million school bond issue, which was needed to upgrade curriculum for increased student preparedness for higher education or vocational training. It has allowed for construction of additional buildings and classrooms to decrease class size, increase the safety of our children with safe rooms and security systems, and proceed with plans for the new STEM Program—all of which is beneficial for our students, teachers and the future of Henryetta. 
James has a lengthy community service background and has served on or chaired a number of boards. These include coaching Henryetta Little League baseball and football for over 20 years, Henryetta Dugout Club and Henryetta Takedown Club; Oklahoma United Methodist Conference Board of Laity and Board of Discipleship & Ministry, Henryetta First Methodist Church Lay Leader and Trustee; member of the Gideon's Okmulgee Camp; and Muscogee Creek Nation Energy Steering Committee and the Environmental Protection Agency Pesticide Program Board. 
James graduated from Henryetta Public School in 1976. He and his wife Carol have six children, all six having attended and graduated from Henryetta Public Schools as well. He is also a proud grandfather of seven and looks forward to seeing his grandchildren graduate from HHS one day. 
James Williams has lived in Henryetta since he was three years old. He is very passionate about is hometown and strives to improve not only Henryetta Public Schools, but the lives of each and every child who passes through the doors of our school. 
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