2007-11-01 / News

Candidates hope to make the grade

By Tom Shevlin

School Committee candidates Melissa Burrows, Julie Kallfelz and Bruce "BJ" Whitehouse made their case to island residents at the Jamestown Shores Association's candidates forum last Thursday at the Jamestown Senior Center.

Speaking to a room of about fifty people, candidates were given the opportunity to make opening remarks on the topic of their choice.

Melissa Burrows, a first-time candidate running on the Republican ticket opened the forum by saying that as a life-long island resident and mother of two special needs children, she was acutely aware of the challenges facing Jamestown parents .

Julie Kallfelz, an incumbent Democrat, introduced herself to the crowd by emphasizing her experience on the school committee and pledging her commitment to addressing the "many challenges" facing Jamestown including challenges of financial inefficiency and education quality.

Bruce "BJ" Whitehouse, also a Democrat and first-time candidate, broke the ice by playing off of his typical experience at the senior center. "I expected to hear singing," said Whitehouse, who has served as the long-time director of the Jamestown Community Chorus. Whitehouse went on to address school committee issues by distinguishing himself. "I don't plan on being a world-beater," he said "I plan on being an advocate for children."

Audience questions were sparse during the joint forum, with council candidates drawing the majority of inquiries. However, Whitehouse did field a question regarding ways to extend the classroom experience into the community. Whitehouse responded by proposing what he described as outreach programs between town entities such as the town council and students.

Closing remarks were brief. Melissa Burrows expressed her support for exploring inter-community projects with neighboring towns in order to share costs and expand the learning experience. Julie Kallfelz emphasized that fluctuations in the town's school age population and state mandates have created a challenging environment for the school committee. She said that her experience in addressing those challenges was an important qualification. Bruce Whitehouse used his allotted time to reflect on the differences between the experiences of today's students in comparison to his own. "There are special needs and mandates that we couldn't have dreamed of," Whitehouse said. He concluded by renewing his desire to be an advocate for Jamestown's youth.

Voters can vote for their choice of school committee candidate on Tuesday, November 6.

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