John Fierro decides to mount a write-in campaign for Kansas City Public Schools board

The political prestige of being a board member for the evermore troubled Kansas City Public Schools has waxed and waned over the years.

There have been many elections in the past where no one filed to run, leaving seats up for grabs to write-in candidates, some with a measure of qualification to do the job and others without.

And then there have been times, as recently as 2010, when competition for KCPS board seats ran high. That year, John Covington was the superintendent and the district had a sense of upward momentum about it. Civic organizations like the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce got involved in the election, backing a slate of candidates that it thought would support a progressive movement and Covington’s agenda for the inner city district.

That slate was elected, but then Covington later took a higher-paying job in Michigan and some factions of the board reverted back to the KCPS governance we’ve known for years: a meddlesome and infighting group.

In 2016, it looks like we’re back to the days where interest in serving on the KCPS board is low again. The January filing deadline to run for any of the three open positions on the April 5 ballot came and went and nobody bothered to file, according to records with the Kansas City Election Board.

Now it’s time to count hands for write-in candidacies. John Fierro is one of the first.

Fierro, the CEO of the Mattie Rhodes Center announced he would throw his hat in the ring on Monday, making his intentions known that he would run for subdistrict 3 (which encompasses much of the Historic Northeast Kansas City neighborhoods). Fierro ran for Kansas City Council last year but lost to Jolie Justus.

Fierro makes a strong candidate, whether he’s a write-in or a real candidate. His involvement in local civic affairs is pretty extensive, and he gives off a vibe of someone who actually cares and isn’t in it for himself.

Fierro said he had no plans to run for KCPS but then saw how lonely the ballot looked for the upcoming election.

“While I had no intention of running, the absence of qualified candidates at the election filing deadline was very troublesome and disturbing,” Fierro said in a written statement. “The School Board needs new members who are willing to refocus the KCPS administration on the mission of educating students, providing the appropriate resources for our administrators [and] teachers as well as convening the support of our surrounding community. If I am elected to the School Board, I will do that.”

Fierro’s campaign manager is Crispin Rea, a former KCPS board member who filed to run for the Kansas City Council seat currently held by Quinton Lucas, but thought better of it long before the primary.

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