David Simons

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David Simons
David Simons.jpg
Board member, Savannah-Chatham County Board of Education, President
Former candidate
Elections and appointments
Last electionMay 20, 2014
Term limitsN/A
Education
Bachelor'sMacMurray College
Master'sGolden Gate University
Military service
Service/branchU.S. Army Special Forces
Service branchGeorgia Air National Guard
Personal
ProfessionBusiness owner
Websites
Campaign website
David Simons campaign logo
David Simons was a candidate for the board presidency of the Savannah-Chatham County Board of Education in Georgia. He initially advanced from the May 20, 2014 general election to a runoff election against Jolene Byrne on July 22, 2014. Simons announced his withdrawal from the race on May 22, 2014. Byrne will face third-place finisher Chester A. Ellis in the runoff election.[1]

Biography

Simons earned bachelor's degrees in business and political science from MacMurray College. He later earned a M.B.A. from Golden Gate University. Simons has worked as a legislative aide in the U.S. House of Representatives and a congressional affairs manager with Eaton Corporation. He is currently the president and owner of The Simons Political Group, a political and business consulting firm. Simons is a former member of the U.S. Army Special Forces and currently serves in the Georgia Air National Guard. He and his wife have two children.[2]

Elections

2014

See also: Savannah-Chatham County Public School System elections (2014)

Opposition

David Simons ran against Sadie C. Brown, Jolene Byrne, George Seaborough and Chester A. Ellis in the general election on May 20, 2014. Board president Joe Buck could not run for another term because of the seat's two-term limit. Simon will face Byrne in the runoff election on July 22, 2014.

Results

Savannah-Chatham County Public School System, Board President General Election, 4-year term, 2014
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngJolene Byrne 40.1% 11,003
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngDavid Simons 21.5% 5,900
     Nonpartisan Chester A. Ellis 17.2% 4,736
     Nonpartisan Sadie C. Brown 10.7% 2,941
     Nonpartisan George Seaborough 10.5% 2,889
Total Votes 27,469
Source: Georgia Secretary of State, "OFFICIAL COUNTY RESULTS," May 20, 2014

Funding

Simons has reported $50,616.00 in contributions and $17,716.84 in expenditures to the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission, leaving his campaign with $32,899.16 on hand as of May 16, 2014.[3]

Endorsements

Simons has not received any official endorsements in this election.

Campaign themes

2014

Simons explained his themes for the 2014 campaign on his campaign website:

The Chatham County School system needs new leadership. Dr. Joe Buck, who has ably led the board for the past eight years as the president, must now step down because of term limits. In my view, we need a decisive leader, one that can lead from the front, one that has spent a lifetime leading, one that can continue the progress we have made yet correct the glaring weaknesses within the school system. Our job is to give students tools to take advantage of their God-given talents and intelligence so they can develop to their fullest potential.

One of the most frequent questions I am asked is: “Why are you running for School Board President?” That answer is easy. Educating our children has the most direct effect on our collective futures. When you think about the next generation – what comes to mind? Do you think that the future workforce will be one that is well-educated, well-trained and well-prepared to be employable and contribute in a meaningful way to our community? I’ve spoken with many local small business owners who have told me that they are having trouble finding employable people to work for them. We can choose to ignore the problems or insulate ourselves from them, but that isn’t productive.

After three combat tours including one in Afghanistan that I just completed a few months ago, I have seen the destruction of a country where education was a premium and then deemed irrelevant. I have witnessed generations of illiterate men and women being herded through their lives in a wave of ignorance, conflict and death. In Afghanistan, being literate means to be able to read and write at a first grade level. Because of their lack of education, the Afghans are helpless and easier to oppress by whoever is vying for control of their country.

Obviously, in the United States, and in greater Savannah, we are far better off. However, we aren’t making the best use of our dollars and our teachers to make sure our children are ready to seize the mantle of leadership when they are adults.

To put it in military terms, the enemy for our community is adequacy. An “adequate” school that shuffles students through the system, but doesn’t really prepare them for the future, isn’t the answer. A school that prepares students for a JOB and a career is the end goal we must seek. We cannot capitulate on this issue.

To me, every child is important. Regardless of race, creed or color, the future lies on their shoulders and as adults, it is our responsibility to prepare them for their future. There is nothing more important than a parent who engages their child in their lessons from school and life experiences with their peers. Teachers cannot be surrogate parents for the children they teach. We as parents must engage our children with their daily studies, their daily homework assignments, their daily life lessons. The amount of time and effort that my wife and I spend with our children knows no limits as we work with them so they can excel. We’re fortunate. Because of our parents’ sacrifice, my wife and I were able to graduate from college and have productive careers. I’ve given a lifetime of service to our country, and now I am willing to step up and lead our school system so the next generation can have the opportunities they deserve. I’m running because I believe my experience, skills, education and leadership can improve a system that has been ensnared in ever-changing programs and policies that have not made real progress in the betterment of our public school system. We need to make real improvement in our education system and it can’t wait – the lives of our children are at stake.

But I can’t do this alone. I am asking for help from all parts of this community. There are some schools in our system that are setting the bar high for its students and students are reaching those high standards. I applaud those schools. But shouldn’t ALL of our schools be great? Shouldn’t ALL of our schools be in the business of insuring our children leave after graduation fully capable of reading and writing at a proficiency level that allows them success either in college or in the job market?

I call on parents to reengage with their children and their studies. It is their responsibility to insure their children are prepared for school. I also call on the business community to join in a community-wide effort to improve our public schools. I would like to see the reinstatement of Junior Achievement and Corporate Academy as well as see apprenticeship programs develop within the schools. The business community has the resources to assist in training our children for productive lives and careers. Together we can insure that our children will be well equipped to assume the mantle of the future.

In closing, I ask you for your support as I run for president of the Savannah Chatham County public school system. I appreciate the opportunity to create a future that is bright for our children and our community.

[4]

—David Simons's campaign website, (2014), [5]

What was at stake?

Issues in the election

Negative posters target David Simons

Detractors of Simons placed posters at the locations of candidate forums to attack the candidate's qualifications for office. A series of posters placed by unnamed opponents featured a police photo of Simons from a 2000 arrest for battery. The posters used phrases like "David Simons: A Role Model for Our Children" and "David Simons: Are Temper Tantrums a Community Value." Simons countered that the posters highlighted his frontrunner status in the race. Fellow candidates Jolene Byrne, George Seaborough and Chester A. Ellis did not address the posters but criticized Simons for his failure to attend candidate forums in interviews with the Savannah Morning News.[6]

Ethics complaint against David Simons

Simons faces an ethics complaint and civil lawsuit related to contacts he made with Superintendent Thomas Lockamy on April 16, 2014 and five school board members on April 17, 2014. Simons, the owner of The Simons Political Group, reached out to Lockamy to meet with representatives for Rives Worrell. Rives Worrell is a Simons client and a construction firm that holds a $21 million contract with the district to build a new school. The April 17, 2014 emails to board members requested assistance in resolving a dispute with Michelle Jervey, a contractor engaged in a dispute with Rives Worrell over minority hiring claims. All five board members contacted by Simons are white and no African American board members were contacted regarding Jervey.[7]

Jervey filed a civil suit against Simons on May 14, 2014 and seeks $10,000 in damages on the grounds that the emails could damage her ability to seek future employment. Local realtor Clint Murphy submitted a complaint with the Georgia Ethics Commission claiming that Simons is lobbying public officials without registering with the state. Murphy's complaint notes that Simons has not registered as a lobbyist since 2010 despite work done by his company. Simons has criticized both claims as baseless efforts at weakening his board candidacy.[7]

April 23 candidate forum

Sadie C. Brown, Jolene Byrne, Chester A. Ellis and George Seaborough participated in a candidate forum on April 23, 2014 sponsored by the Downtown Neighborhood Association. The candidates shared their views on how to close the gap between high-performing schools and struggling schools in the district. Jolene Byrne and George Seaborough agreed that the district needs to encourage communication among principals to reproduce successful programs across the district. Byrne and Seaborough both advocated for expanded pursuit of education grants and argued against raising property taxes. Sadie C. Brown and Chester A. Ellis countered that they would reserve judgement on property tax changes until the Georgia State Legislature addresses aid formulas. Brown advocated for consistent implementation of district policies while Ellis noted that successful students have parents who are engaged through high school.[8]

Issues in the district

Bus driver protests

Bus drivers working for Savannah-Chatham County Public School System protested in early May 2014 for annual contracts and benefits. The protesters demonstrated at a school board meeting in the first week of May 2014 and the First Student bus operations office on May 14, 2014. First Student is a private bus company that has a contract with the district. Requests for year-round contracts and benefits stem from House Bill 714, a bill passed in April 2014 by the state legislature that prohibits school district contractors from seeking unemployment benefits during school breaks. Bus drivers were employed directly by the district prior to the 2012-2013 school year and received wages during school breaks. House Bill 714 was sponsored by State Representative Mark Hamilton in order to save school districts throughout the state up to $10 million per year. The Teamsters Local 728 organized the May 2014 protests to highlight the financial impacts of the state law on 60,000 contract workers. First Student has indicated that driver wages during school breaks will be mentioned during future negotiations with the district.[9]

About the district

See also: Savannah-Chatham County Public School System, Georgia
Savannah-Chatham County Public School System is located in Chatham County, Georgia
Savannah-Chatham County Public School System is located in Chatham County, Georgia. The county seat of Chatham County is Savannah, Georgia. Chatham County is home to 278,434 residents, according to the United States Census Bureau.[10] Savannah-Chatham County Public School System is the 10th-largest school district in Georgia, serving 35,842 students during the 2011-2012 school year.[11]

Demographics

Chatham County outperformed the rest of Georgia in terms of higher education achievement in 2012. The United States Census Bureau found that 30.3 percent of Chatham County residents aged 25 years and older had attained a bachelor's degree compared to 27.8 percent for Georgia as a whole. The median household income in Chatham County was $45,653 compared to $49,604 for the state of Georgia. The poverty rate in Chatham County was 18.9 percent compared to 17.4 percent for the entire state.[10]

Racial Demographics, 2012[10]
Race Chatham County (%) Georgia (%)
White 54.7 62.8
Black or African American 40.2 31.2
American Indian and Alaska Native 0.3 0.5
Asian 2.6 3.5
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander 0.1 0.1
Two or More Races 2.0 1.8
Hispanic or Latino 5.9 9.2

Note: The United States Census Bureau considers "Hispanic or Latino" to be a place of origin, not a race. Therefore, the Census allows citizens to report both their race and that they are from a "Hispanic or Latino" place of origin simultaneously. As a result, the percentages in each column of the racial demographics table will exceed 100 percent. Each column will add up to 100 percent after removing the "Hispanic or Latino" place of origin percentages.[12]

Recent news

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See also

External links

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