This spring, the Madison school board has one contested race: Donald Gors versus board president Arlene Silveira.
Gors, a 58-year-old father of three, has no beef with Silveira's performance. "I don't really know anything about the people on the board or where they stand," he admits. He chose to run against Silveira because she's in Seat 1, which was at the top of the list of incumbents. (Also on the ballot and running unopposed is Seat 2 incumbent Lucy Mathiak.)
Gors attended MATC and the UW, but never got a degree. He now runs two businesses out of his west-side home, washing residential windows and distributing air purifiers. He doesn't believe his lack of a degree will hurt his chances.
"It's who we are as people," he says, adding that he struggled in school. It wasn't until a teacher offered him special lessons that he was finally able, in sixth grade, to read a book on his own. "I understand the power of someone who cares."
Gors decided to run after spending several years as a parent active in his children's schools. "If you listen to the school board, they always say if you have ideas, you ought to get involved," says Gors. "You can only have so much effect from a distance."
But Silveira argues that the district needs consistent leadership as it begins a strategic planning process. "I think we are at the point where we're able to get things done," she says, noting a school spending referendum that passed in November takes some of the pressure off the board to cut costs. "Now we can focus on what to do in the future, instead of struggling to get by."
For three days later this month, the board will convene a group of 60 to 70 community leaders to conduct long-term planning on a variety of issues. Silveira doesn't know what will come out of it, but predicts "a very good dialogue."
The meetings are open to the public. They will be held Jan. 29-31 at the Goodman Community Center, starting each day at 8 a.m.