MARCH 5, 2024 PRIMARY ELECTION

Cabarrus County Board of Education Candidates


Each candidate was asked the three following questions:

  1. Why did you decide to run for this office?
  2. What are your top 3 priorities for serving in this office?
  3. What experience/qualities make you a good choice for this office?
Click on each candidate’s picture or name to view their responses.

4 Seats Available – 4 Year Term

Keshia Sandidge (D)

Incumbent
(General Election Only)

Rob Cerulo (D)

New Candidate
(General Election Only)

Namu Kachroo (D)

New Candidate
(General Election Only)

Bubba Hartsell (R)

New Candidate

Greg Mills (R)

New Candidate

Mishell Williams (D)

New Candidate
(General Election Only)

Amanda Wortman (R)

New Candidate

Candidate Responses

Rob Walter

Endorsements: I’ve been endorsed by the local Republican party in the past three presidential year general elections. 


Why did you decide to run for this office?

I love the Cabarrus County community and the CCS families, staff, and students. I continue to have a calling to serve, contribute, and provide experienced leadership that will help see our school system succeed for all students.

What are your top 3 priorities for serving in this office?
  1. Student engagement and achievement.

  2. Collaboration and transparency in our decision making.

  3. Being good steward of the resources provided so we can make the best impact for students, staff, families, and taxpayers in the community.
What experience/qualities make you a good choice for this office?
I’m the only incumbent running in the primary with eleven years of experience on the board. I’ve served as Chair and Vice Chair and participated on several different committees, so I have well rounded experience. I’m known for doing homework, holding conservative values, asking questions, attending events outside of just board meetings, promoting understandable policies, transparency and accountability, and supporting schools and programs that engage and empower students in their own educational success.

Keshia Sandidge

Endorsements:


Why did you decide to run for this office?

Today, Keshia is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker for a local Managed Care Organization. She works tirelessly every day to make a difference in her community. Social work, along with her own experience as a mother, has given her a profound understanding of how educational opportunities, when paired with collective involvement, serves as a catalyst for potential solutions in improving societal challenges. This unique skill set, coupled with her desire to see change, motivated her to run for public office and ultimately win a seat on the Cabarrus County Board of Education. In every public setting, when asked, Keshia often shares her one inspiration for seeking political office: “It’s simple, I wanted to make a difference. I want little girls, from every background, to know they can excel and prosper while serving the human interest.”

What are your top 3 priorities for serving in this office?
  1. While having enjoyed a successful first term in office, I understand there’s lots of work to be done. My reelection campaign for 2024 will center on building and sustaining an “Education System We Can Trust.” This simply means that we must continue to work to ensure Cabarrus County Schools remain the best available educational resource for our children outside of the home.

  2. We must prepare our children for the forthcoming change in how our students receive education in the future. Our parents must be made aware of and prepared for legislative measures being considered and enacted at the local and state level.

  3. My goal is to “Sustain Transparency,” but also create a model for “Politics We Can All Understand.” If we can accomplish these measures, we ensure “Equity in Education,” which prepares Cabarrus County as a leader in educational opportunities for STEM subjects to Career and Technical Education, and beyond.
What experience/qualities make you a good choice for this office?

On the board, Keshia has given voice to parents, teachers, and students in the pursuit of a more perfect public education system. Having developed a reputation for transparency, accountability, and bipartisanship, she has proven her ability to rise above petty political partisanship to accomplish huge advances in education for the community. A rising star, Keshia has worked on several issues ranging from teacher retention and pay, school safety, student choice, STEM availability, student and staff mental health and public health administrative policy during the 2020 COVID crisis.

Rob Cerulo

Endorsements:


Why did you decide to run for this office?

We can do much better, collectively, prioritizing values that everyone should be on par with. I’m a parent of a child with special needs and, as an active participant in her educational experience, it’s apparent that our most vulnerable populations are unjustly suffering from regressive practices of these times. The educational interest of children, like my daughter, need to be served.

What are your top 3 priorities for serving in this office?
  1. Advocate for children with special needs

  2. Prevent religious based decision making on educational matters

  3. Bring more fathers into the management of their kids’ education
What experience/qualities make you a good choice for this office?

I am vocal in speaking up to represent actual family values, instead of generating narratives for the purpose of political spin. If you have trouble with the mission behind “Moms for Liberty”, then we are on the same team!

I have coached my son’s sports teams for the past several seasons. This has provided information and experience which I can use to promote programs that will be useful to Cabarrus County students.

Melanie Freeman

Endorsements:


Why did you decide to run for this office?

I have spent all my adult life working with students of all ages. My own children are now grown, and I have experience and time that I believe could be used to serve my community in this capacity. I have never sought to be involved in politics so this is a unique endeavor for me. I have no desire to use this job as a pathway into politics. Education is one of my passions and I hope to give back as I have been blessed.

What are your top 3 priorities for serving in this office?
  1. I want to see the classroom unburdened. Too much time is spent by teachers in handling discipline problems, printing classroom materials, and attending to administration duties. Teaching should return to being the main focus.

  2. I want to see a return to teaching basic learning skills. Focus should be on reading, writing, and math skills in early Elementary. No child should leave 3rd grade unable to read, do basic math problems, or understand basic math concepts. They should also be able to write legibly. Later grades should be developing reading comprehensive skills, vocabulary, study, critical thinking, and higher math skills.

  3. Our community is growing and with it the need for more schools. Our Education Lottery, which was to help fund schools and pay teachers, needs to be audited. The percentage it was designed to pay has been reduced drastically and there are far too many administrative costs in salaries, etc.
What experience/qualities make you a good choice for this office?

I was born in Cabarrus County and raised my family here. My husband is also a native of Cabarrus. I have a B.A. in Music, with Minors in History and English. I am a professional cellist and was a member of the Charlotte Symphony for 11 years. I am a product of the Public School System and 2 of my children also attended Cabarrus County Schools. I have taught the full curriculum of grades 1-12 using textbooks multiple times with my own children . I have taught all ages in music and taught in after-school clubs. I was also an Adjunct Teacher with Gardner-Webb University for over 25 years. Through this I have experienced the whole spectrum of student development. I have seen where learning deficiencies have occurred and where children struggled as a result. I believe this experience can be useful on the School Board.

Namu Kachroo

Endorsements:


Why did you decide to run for this office?

My decision to run is not fueled by a mere quest for a title, but by a profound dedication to the future of our school system. As a parent, educator, and fervent advocate for comprehensive education, my passion lies in ensuring our schools excel in every aspect. I believe in nurturing the holistic growth of children—educationally, physically, and emotionally. Drawing from educational experience and enthusiasm for the field, I am poised to infuse fresh energy and innovative ideas. My commitment is to collaborate constructively with fellow board members, educators, and families, striving collectively to make a positive impact on the lives of our children—the ultimate objective uniting us all.

What are your top 3 priorities for serving in this office?

1. Strategic Growth – Some sections of our county have experienced remarkable development in recent years that has resulted in over-utilization of our educational institutions. To address this issue, I aim to foster collaboration and communication between the city, county, and school system to get the necessary funding for educational and physical (meaning facilities) needs when approving new developments.

2. Parental and community involvement – The proverb “It takes a village to raise a child.” should be our guidepost, emphasizing the essential role of parents, families, community members, and schools in helping our children achieve their full potential. I will strive to build strong relationships between schools and the broader community, providing opportunities for our students to excel and prepare for their future.

3. Teacher Retention – As a former teacher, I understand how imperative it is to provide substantial support and resources to our educators. I will advocate for competitive compensation, personalized professional development, and resources to support our teachers.

4. Advocate of Recess in Middle School – While schools are often held accountable for academic performance, we must not overlook the vital role of recess. Research shows that children need this opportunity to process emotions and consolidate their learning.

What experience/qualities make you a good choice for this office?

As a devoted mother of two children attending Cox Mill Elementary and Harold Winkler Middle School and a former educator, I understand the hurdles that both our students and teachers encounter within our education system. Having taught at CMS High School and served as an instructor at CPCC and UNCC, I recognize the importance of an inclusive, supportive learning environment in shaping the lives of our future generation.

Bubba Hartsell

Endorsements:


Why did you decide to run for this office?

I do not consider myself a politician, I am a public servant to everyone in Cabarrus County. Our children are the future of our communities and I believe we need to ensure our schools are the safest, best for academic growth, and are being led properly for current and future generations to come for students, teachers and staff.

What are your top 3 priorities for serving in this office?

We currently have some over crowded schools and we need to build new schools to keep up with the demand by working with County Commissioners to make sure of proper spending and planning while taking in consideration the importance of our communities and neighborhoods. We have to have transparency by our leaders, we have to make sure our teachers and staff are getting the proper training and support to do there jobs, along with improving teacher and support staff pay, Cabarrus County Schools currently has over 200 open positions and most of them are support staff positions, schools can not operate properly without these essential jobs!

What experience/qualities make you a good choice for this office?

I have been in education for over 11 years, I am currently teaching elementary school in Kannapolis City Schools where I work with Exceptional Children, I coached high school and middle school wrestling for 12 years in Cabarrus County Schools, as well as a football coach, I understand the importance and have great knowledge of athletics and I am a huge advocate for it. I am a small business owner and live in Mount Pleasant, were my wife is an educator and my children also attend Cabarrus County schools, I am the only candidate that currently works in a classroom everyday!

Greg Mills

Endorsements:


Why did you decide to run for this office?

Public education is very important to me. My grandmother taught in a one-room schoolhouse and my youngest daughter is in college studying to be a teacher. My wife is a licensed teacher with 25 years of experience in special education. She and I grew up in Cabarrus County schools. We put our two children through Cabarrus County Schools. I got into this race because the struggles of our public school classrooms are personal to me. It has been debated and discussed around my dinner table for decades. For some people, the school board is an entry point to other political offices. For me, it is a platform I can use to promote ideas and policies that I believe will make a difference at the classroom level and get better outcomes for the children of Cabarrus County.

What are your top 3 priorities for serving in this office?
  1. We have to repair the relationship between parents and educators. Public schools were standing on the edge of catastrophe before the pandemic. Now, parents are aware that their kids are not getting the kind of education they expected. To restore parent trust we have to be transparent about the issues, include them in the problem-solving process, and give them more opportunities to be directly involved in their children’s education.

  2. Cabarrus does not have enough licensed teachers. We’re asking them to take on more work. We’re leaning more heavily on teacher’s assistants. And, we’re turning to synchronous remote learning options for some of the most difficult-to-hire subjects. We’ll be more successful at attracting great teachers when we establish a regional reputation as the best culture for teachers to work in. I will ask district staff to “lighten the load” for teachers. The more time we can give back to educators in their workday, the more effective they will be in the classroom.

  3. We have to be brave enough to address spending. The school district is asking county commissioners for one billion dollars to build new schools and improve existing ones. We would all like our children to walk into “world-class” buildings, but we have to give them the best that County taxpayers can afford. That means taking a hard look at the schools we’ve built recently to see if student performance there is objectively better than similar student populations at older schools.
What experience/qualities make you a good choice for this office?

I was an art education major at UNCC for a couple of semesters. My career went in a different direction but I’ve always been in creative fields. Your school board needs people from different backgrounds. You need people who are familiar with education, accounting, and construction. You also need creative thinkers. I reject the belief that entrenched problems don’t have solutions. We need visionaries who can see a path around the obstacles that keep our students from enjoying their school days and achieving academic success.

My youngest daughter graduated from Mount Pleasant High School in 2020. I filed to run for School Board for the first time in 2021. I changed very quickly from going to school events in support of my children to visiting schools all over the district to hear the experiences of other parents and teachers. I lost that election, but I never stopped working. I have been in schools as a substitute teacher. I continue to attend every school board meeting, applaud for arts performances, and cheer on our teams. I share what I learn from the community with school board members and district staff. I will continue that fight but I could be much more effective with the citizens of Cabarrus County supporting me as an elected member of the Board of Education.

Catherine Bonds Moore

Endorsements:


Why did you decide to run for this office?

I have dedicated my entire career to advocating for children and I aspire to continue that role as a member of the Cabarrus County School Board. I have 35 years of experience in education as a teacher and school counselor which would be very valuable as a board member. My commitment is to the students and families of this county and I want to work with other board members to improve student achievement for success.

What are your top 3 priorities for serving in this office?
  1. My top priority is to provide every child with the opportunity to receive an education in a safe environment. We have so many students with different learning styles and individual needs in our schools today. I have seen first hand the struggles parents go through to get help for their children and I have the knowledge to improve this process.
  2. Recruiting good qualified teachers is a high priority. Teaching is a hard job with long hours and our teachers need to be treated as professionals so we can retain qualified teachers. Respect starts at the highest level with board members and superintendent. We need to be sure we are selecting strong leaders and working as a team to keep the best teachers. I will always be an advocate for teachers and education at the state level.
  3. Supporting parental rights in making decisions in the best interest of their children is a priority for me. A school system that values parental rights contributes to the overall well-being of children and improves communication between school and home. Parents know their children better than anyone else.
What experience/qualities make you a good choice for this office?

My educational background and work experience has more than prepared me for the responsibilities of a CSS board member. I am a graduate of Northwest Cabarrus and have two children who graduated from Robinson High School. I graduated from Appalachian with a BS in Education K-12 with a minor in math and a Masters in Counselor Education. I also have a Masters in School Administration from UNC-Charlotte. I have 35 years experience in education with Cabarrus County Schools and have worked at seven different schools in the system. I was a student bus driver while at Northwest and have worked closely with bus drivers over my years with CCS.
I have now started my own business, Moore Advocacy for Children, in Concord to help guide parents in advocating for their children with learning difficulties. I am also a partner with Bonds Farm and still live on the farm in the house my great grandfather built. I am a lifelong member of Poplar Tent Presbyterian where I served 6 years on the leadership team.

I served as the School Improvement Team Chairperson for 10 years. One of my responsibilities was to manage our school budget and present at the county level. I know that each school turns in a budget request that the school board uses to prioritize at the county level. I understand the different levels of funding (federal, state and local) that make up the CCS budget.

Mishell Williams

Endorsements:


Why did you decide to run for this office?

I’ve decided to run for office because I have a genuine passion for education. That’s why I went to college and chose education as my profession. I have a Bachelors degree in Education, a Masters degree in Curriculum and Instruction, and a teaching license in North Carolina. I desire to support our teachers, staff members, students, and families. I aspire to serve my community and look forward to advocating on behalf of Cabarrus County families.

What are your top 3 priorities for serving in this office?
  1. Teacher & Staff Retention – Our district is loosing highly qualified teachers and staff members and I will ensure that we do all that we can to keep our top talent in our district.

  2. Supporting the Whole Child – We must remain focused on supporting the whole child, which is especially important as our community continues to grow at a high rate. As more families move to our county, I want to ensure that every child and teacher are fully supported and placed in the best position to be successful.

  3. Safety – Violence in schools is increasing at an alarming rate around the country. I will focus on instituting policies and procedures that safeguard our staff and students.
What experience/qualities make you a good choice for this office?

First and foremost, I am an educator with extensive experience in various educational settings who is passionate about high quality education for ALL students. I am also a mother of children enrolled in the Cabarrus County School District, where I am a very active PTO board member. I work alongside our teachers and staff in our schools on a consistent basis to support their broad spectrum of needs. My overall philosophy is to ensure that every child is supported from a whole child perspective, which includes cognitively, social-emotionally, academically, physically, and mentally. I am very passionate about serving my community and will use my unique experiences and extensive educational knowledge to advocate, create, and support policies that effect the whole child

Amanda Wortman

Endorsements:


Why did you decide to run for this office?

In a quest to champion positive change in our educational system, I decided there is more I can do from within the Board of Education. Motivated by a deep belief in the transformative power of education, my goal is to contribute actively to shaping policies that enhance learning environments, foster inclusivity, and pave the way for a brighter future for our students.

What are your top 3 priorities for serving in this office?

While I have several priorities for serving on the BOE my top three would be:

  1. Securing resources and opportunities for every student, alongside empowering parents to actively engage in their children’s education.

  2. Collaborating with legislators to address teacher pay, retention, and fostering a positive work environment.

  3. Adopting a preemptive approach to school safety by ensuring the allocation of funds for comprehensive safety measures. Together, let’s build a foundation that nurtures both students and educators for a thriving educational community.
What experience/qualities make you a good choice for this office?

As a mother of five children ranging from 13 to 19 years old, I recognize the importance of diverse programs tailored to accommodate various learning styles. My focus is to ensure equal, quality education for every student. With a background in serving our community as a Paramedic and co-managing our family’s commercial electrical business for the past 23 years, I grasp the needs of our community and appreciate the significance of fiscal responsibility. Bringing firsthand knowledge of our county’s budgeting and funding dynamics, I am well-acquainted with the intricacies that drive our educational system. My experience allows me to navigate the complexities, ensuring effective allocation of resources to meet the diverse needs of our schools. With this insight, I am committed to fostering transparency, accountability, and optimal utilization of funds to elevate our educational standards. I’m committed to ensuring that our resources are spent wisely and plan to prioritize smart investments for the benefit of our students and community.

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