By Paul Thompson
The Hickman Mills C-1 School Board has elected a new school board member to replace the departed Scott Jennings, but just barely.
When Jennings took a job new job out-of-state, it became necessary to fill his vacated seat. Thus, The Hickman Mills C-1 Board of Education held candidate interviews on Wednesday, October 6th to decide who would fill Jennings’ vacated seat.
After five separate votes, the board ultimately chose Breman Anderson Jr. as their newest colleague over two other candidates: Michele Hill and Raymond Cisneros. Anderson has lived in the area since 1995, when he moved from Chicago. He received his B.A. and M.A. from Southern Illinois University. Anderson has a seven-year old daughter who goes to school in the district, and he has been an active parent up until now.
“My passion is for Early Childhood Education,” said Anderson during his interview with the Board. “I have a seven year old, and I’ve participated in numerous activities of the Early Childhood Center of which she graduated.”
The devoted father cited his experience dealing with collective bargaining and contracts as a plus for a potential position on the C-1 Board of Education. Anderson also noted that he had been reading up on past board meeting agendas in preparation for his interview.
“To prepare for this meeting I reviewed, with thanks to the internet, the agendas of the last twelve months of Board Meetings,” Anderson answered in response to a question about his work ethic and potential time commitment to the job. “At this point in time, I could give you no more than 25-30 hours a week; that would be my timetable.”
While Anderson was an accomplished candidate, his selection was by no means a landslide. In fact, having three worthy candidates almost created an interesting dilemma: having no replacement board member at all.
The board’s first vote was an even split, with Bonnaye Mims and April Cushing voting for Michele Hill, J.T. Brown and Darrell Curls voting for Breman Anderson Jr., and Debbie Aiman and George Flesher voting for Raymond Cisneros. A second vote eliminated Hill when Cushing changed her vote to Cisneros. That’s when things got complicated.
With Hill out of the running, the board took a third vote, albeit with similar results. Brown, Mims, and Curls voted for Anderson, while Cushing, Flesher, and Aiman went for Cisneros. After a fourth vote yielded the same result, it looked as if the decision may have to be pushed back until the next board meeting or longer.
“You can put it as an agenda item and talk about it at your next session, or you can just leave it open,” explained district attorney Chris Gahagan when asked what the other options were.
It looked like that might be exactly what would happen. But after board member Debbie Aiman petitioned for a fifth vote in order to change her decision, the board was finally able to break the deadlock between Anderson and Cisneros.
“Had we not broken the tie, there is no way of knowing when the position would be filled,” explained Aiman about her change of heart. “It made no sense to wait. Mr. Anderson came into the meeting prepared. Therefore to fill the vacancy, I changed my vote to support Mr. Anderson and break the tie.”
After the voting process was over, the board members acknowledged the difficulty of the decision and thanked each candidate for their interest in the position. For his part, Mr. Anderson appeared ready to get started in his new job serving on the C-1 Board of Education.
“I know we need change, and hopefully we can work together to bring that around,” said Anderson.