BY JAMES HARPER
Dr. Kathy Williams has declared her candidacy for the Volusia County School Board District 2 seat left vacant due to the death of her husband, Dr. Al Williams.
Williams will be running against Bethune-Cookman University educator Ida Duncan Wright, who lost to Williams’ husband during the August primary.
At the time of his death, Dr. Al Williams was chairman of the Volusia County School Board.
A special election to fill the term of Williams, who died Oct. 1, has been set by Gov. Rick Scott for Jan. 15. A primary is scheduled for Dec. 18 if two or more candidates qualify to run.
If more than two candidates qualify, there will be a Jan. 15 runoff if no one gets more than half the vote in the primary.
Dr. Kathy Williams earned a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction in education from the University of Illinois. She holds two Master of Science degrees from Chicago State University and a Bachelor of Science degree from Chicago Teachers College.
She retired from the Chicago Public School District after a 34-year career and has been an educational consultant since 2004.
Her announcement to run for the school board seat was made at a gathering of family, friends and supporters Sunday.
Williams admits her decision to run was difficult considering the circumstances.
“I am encouraged because I will be able to utilize my 30 years of experience in education to not only continue Al’s good work, but, more importantly, to serve as an advocate for the children of Volusia County. I have followed school board issues closely through Al’s work and have felt very much a part of the Volusia County School Board,” she stated.
“There is a great need for student and teacher advocacy in our schools, and I believe I am in the best position to offer that kind of support as a member of the school board,” Williams continued.
Active in community
In addition to her professional work in education and working for various not-for-profit organizations in the county, she has done volunteer work at Bethune-Cookman University, Daytona Beach Housing Corporation Education Centers, Campbell Middle School, Westside and Palm Terrace Elementary Schools, Richard Milbourn Academy and Mainland High School.
“I see this as an opportunity to help the community to continue to strengthen its school system by providing the best education possible for each and every student. This is a vision and a commitment that Al and I shared and that I would be honored to pursue on the Volusia County School Board,” Williams concluded.
A Port Orange resident, she has two children, one stepson and six grandchildren.
Gracious phone call
Wright recently told the Daytona Times that she was humbled when she received a phone call from Dr. Al Williams the morning of Aug. 15, the day after she lost to him in the primary.
She said Williams thanked her for running a clean campaign and considered her a formidable opponent.
Wright also noted that he requested she continue to be involved with the school board and asked if she would consider serving on school board committees.
She said he stated, “We really need parents like you to help us move our county forward.’’
Wright said she has not forgotten her brief conversation with Williams and that she has missed only one school board meeting since losing the election in August.
She has a bachelor of science in business administration from the University of Central Florida and a master of business administration from Stetson University.
Wright is a business administration instructor and academic assessment coordinator at Bethune-Cookman’s College of Business.
She also told the Times why she had entered that race.
“When I entered the race approximately one year ago, I entered to bring a conservational style leadership to the school board – a conversation between all constituents,” she said.
“With the one mil referendum not passing on Tuesday, the school board will definitely need to look at establishing a conversational style leadership through collaborative partnerships with parents, students, and teachers.’’
The District 2 seat includes most of Daytona Beach, South Daytona, Daytona Beach Shores, Ponce Inlet and part of Port Orange.
School board members are elected in nonpartisan races in the districts they represent.
Candidates who want to get in the race now must qualify by paying a $1,360 fee and must do so by noon on Nov. 21.