Although three names will appear on the Feb. 8 election ballot for District 5 of the Edmond Public Schools Board of Education, only two of the candidates are actually seeking your vote for the seat, owing to a late withdrawal by the third candidate.
Incumbent Marcus Jones is running for election in the north Edmond district after being appointed in November to replace Meredith Exline, who resigned in September after six years on the board. He will be facing Michael Grande, a management and investment consultant.
The third candidate, Deonna Maxfield, has bowed out of the EPS District 5 race, according to her campaign’s Facebook page. But Maxfield’s name will still appear on the ballot because she missed the official withdrawal deadline.
This election comes at a time of contention between parents and the school district. The school board received backlash from some after voting in an an August board meeting to give Superintendent Angela Grunewald decision-making control for pandemic procedures.
In September, a group of parents filed a lawsuit against the district, alleging that quarantine policies violated their children’s constitutional rights. In December, an Oklahoma County District Court judge granted a temporary injunction against the district that prevented Edmond Public Schools from enforcing COVID-19 protocols for unvaccinated students.
Following public comment at the board’s November meeting, Grunewald released a response refuting claims made by parents that the district teaches critical race theory, that school board members were being paid with Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds and that fourth-grade students were being taught about serial killer Ted Bundy.
During the Feb. 8 election, a pair of bond proposals will also be on the ballot for consideration. The first proposal is for $117 million to improve or acquire school sites. The second would raise $3 million for transportation improvements.
If no EPS District 5 candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote in the Feb. 8 primary, the top two candidates will head to the general election April 5. The following candidate profiles are presented in alphabetical order and were primarily drawn from publicly available information. (A similar cheat sheet exists for EPS District 2 candidates.)
Profession/Background: Grande is a father of five who has lived in Edmond for the past 17 years and currently runs a business management and consulting company while doing bookkeeping on the side. According to his campaign website, he believes in “Freedom, Equality, and Rugged Individualism.”
In a recent post on his campaign Facebook page regarding certain reading material in the district, Grande states that he is not for banning or burning books, adding, “however we still live with morals and decency. There is a time and place for these books…. There is a maturity level for these books.”
Platform: According to his campaign website, Grande’s platform includes ensuring that parents are involved and represented in the decision-making process of the district and ensuring that students aren’t being pushed through a standardized process and are on a path to master the basics of education. He also calls for transparency and accountability.
Grande’s website also states that he will “never relinquish my representative power or position over to the school district, no matter what the emergency.”
Email to officials: Grande has engaged with Edmond elected officials before. In an October 2020 email sent to all members of the Edmond City Council following a vote to extend masking requirements for the city, Grande called Councilmen Josh Moore, Darrell Davis and David Chapman “enemies of the people” who “cannot be trusted.”
“You have been completely wrong on the mandates from the beginning and are now displaying without any reasonable doubt that you are either completely incompetent, have a mental illness, or you are on drugs,” Grande wrote, then questioning the impact of COVID-19. “Imagine a virus so deadly and severe that you have to have a test done, to see if you even had it. Have you even looked at the total negative cases (what a joke). Your basing your numbers on positive cases and not hospitalizations or deaths. I have shown you from the test inserts that the numbers are false positive, you are continuing to spread fear and putting those who are actually at risk in a dangerous situation by giving them a false sense of security.”
Grande concluded by referencing “middle school government class.”
“Time will tell all and I look forward to holding each one of you personally responsible for the damage that you have caused economically, socially, and personally to the health and well being of all the families out there whose children live in complete fear and discord,” he wrote. “You are hurting people, it may take years but justice will be done. In case you may have forgotten middle school government class, all levels of government in this country were put in place to protect the RIGHTS of each and every one of its people.”
Profession/Background: Jones is an Edmond Public Schools graduate and received his bachelor’s degree in management information systems from Oklahoma State University.
Jones was appointed to serve on the Edmond Public Schools Board in November, following the resignation of Meredith Exline. He is a software developer with two children who attend school in the district. According to Jones’ LinkedIn profile, he was a programmer analyst for the Oklahoma Tax Commission in 2005 and 2006.
Jones is endorsed by the editorial board of The Edmond Way.
Platform: According to his website, issues of focus for Jones include reducing class sizes, supporting fine arts, advocating for district athletics, reaching out to elected officials to discuss partnerships and policies, improving the use of technology in the district and supporting teachers, principals and staff.
Jones has said that that in his time on the board so far, he has made a point of reaching out to the community, listening to concerns and maintaining open communication. He also emphasizes being transparent about the decisions he has made on the board.
Maxfield confirmed to NonDoc that she is no longer campaigning for the Edmond Public Schools Board of Education election. However, her name will still appear on the ballot because she missed the deadline to withdraw officially.
(Update: This article was updated at 3:05 p.m. Monday, Feb. 7, to include candidate campaign finance reports.)