Four candidates will appear on the ballot for District 1 representative of the Edmond Public Schools Board of Education as the district heads into a year of change.
Candidates include incumbent Lee Ann Kuhlman, retired educator and principal Charles Woodham, parent Latarsha Hodges and former House of Representatives District 96 candidate Margaret Best.
Jerod Kersey was also in the running for the position, but he suspended his campaign on Jan. 24 and threw his support behind Hodges.
Edmond Schools will see some changes in the upcoming 2021-2022 school year, including bringing on a new superintendent after current Superintendent Bret Towne, who has served since 2015, retires at the end of the current school year.
The primary election will take place Tuesday, Feb. 9, with a general election set for April 6 if no single candidate receives more than 50 percent of the Feb. 9 vote. The deadline to request an absentee ballot for the primary election is Feb 2.
The following candidate profiles are presented in alphabetical order and were drawn from publicly available information and a brief conversation with Woodham, who lacked available online information.
Profession/background: According to her campaign Facebook page, Margaret Best is a registered nurse, realtor and mother with four children in the Edmond Schools district.
Political experience: Best’s previous political experience includes a run in the 2020 Republican primary for Oklahoma House of Representatives District 96. She received 40.1 percent of the runoff election vote against now-Rep. Preston Stinson.
Platform: Best’s priority is providing “the best quality education for students where they can grow academically and socially.” She’s in favor of schools providing in-person learning to students, as well as a virtual option. Best has been endorsed by Oklahomans for Health and Parental Rights, an advocacy group opposed to vaccine mandates.
Profession/background: According to her campaign Facebook page, Latarsha Hodges holds a bachelor’s degree in organizational leadership and has worked for Memorial Road Church of Christ for the past 12 years. She is also a volunteer in the children and youth ministries there. Hodges has resided in Edmond for three years and has a son enrolled in Edmond Schools.
Political experience: None listed
Platform: One of Hodges’ goals is to provide a voice and representation for minority, single-parent families.
“Currently, the ratio of minorities on the school board does not accurately represent the EPS student population,” her campaign page reads. “The current board is doing a fine job, but they only represent a portion of the EPS student body. Nearly 40 percent in our district come from ethnically diverse homes.”
Lee Ann Kuhlman
Profession/background: Lee Ann Kuhlman is a retired teacher who taught in Edmond Public Schools for 14 years and was a 2004-2005 teacher of the year finalist. She is also a former Edmond Schools parent, with three children having attended school within the district.
Political experience: Kuhlman has served on the Edmond Schools board since 2005.
“I have gained experience and knowledge of the needs and expectations of our district,” a post on Kuhlman’s campaign Facebook page reads.
Platform: One of Kuhlman’s focuses is to provide options to students that will keep everyone as safe as possible during the pandemic. She has received a series of endorsements from Edmond residents, which are posted on her Facebook page.
Profession/background: Woodham is a retired educator and principal of 34 years, with 25 of those years being in Edmond specifically. He’s also a retired lieutenant colonel in the Oklahoma National Guard with 37 years of military service.
Woodham was the first principal at Edmond North High School in 1993, and two of his children are graduates from Edmond Schools, along with two of his four grandchildren.
Political experience: He previously served on the Edmond Public Schools board from 2005 to 2010.
Platform: Woodham is in favor of opening schools for in-person instruction at the appropriate time, although he says that is currently “undefined.” He thinks his experience will be useful in helping the district look at the big picture like teacher, substitute and bus drive shortages while dealing with the pandemic.