By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
South Alabama voters go to the polls today to select who will serve them on the State Board of Education. Four candidates a vying for the position in the GOP Primary: Matthew Brown, Jackie Zeigler, Carl Myrick and Adam Bourne. The district includes Mobile, Baldwin, Escambia, Conecuh, Butler, Crenshaw and Covington Counties.
Matthew Brown was appointed by Alabama Governor Robert Bentley (R) to the vacant District One seat in July.
Matthew Brown said in a statement, “Education is the great stepping stone which enables young people to achieve success in our society. I am humbled and honored to have this opportunity to invest in the future of Alabama’s children.”
Brown said in a statement that as the District 1 State Board of Education member, he has focused on supporting stronger families, encouraging robust workforce development through career-technical programs, and advocating for the accountable and transparent use of tax payer dollars.
Brown said that he, “Believes that strong families are the key ingredient to strong schools. When strong families are the norm, strong communities and schools are the natural result.” “Every time I cast my vote regarding a particularly policy or program before the State Board of Education I will always ask this question: Does this policy or program enable and empower parents to be more engaged and involved in their child’s education?” Brown wrote that he, “Also believes that workforce development should be one of the top priorities of the education community.”
Brown is a graduate of the Pensacola Christian College and is a 2011 graduate of the Cumberland Law School. Brown is a member of the Baldwin County Young Republicans and works as the Design Engineer for the Baldwin County Highway Department. Brown was the founder and Chairman of the group: ‘Educate Baldwin Now’ which despite being massively outspent successfully defeated massive property tax increases advocated by the Baldwin County School Board. Matthew and his wife, Sarah, have two children.
Jackie Zeigler is educator who says she will push a “back-to-basics” approach. “We need teaching to the individual needs of the student, not teaching to the test,” she said. “We need less paperwork, less busy work, and more classroom instruction.”
Mrs. Zeigler is retired after 14 years as principal at award-winning Mary B. Austin Elementary School in Mobile. Her school won the National Blue Ribbon Award of Excellence. “We had less money but got better results,” she said. “We did that by parental involvement, discipline, and old-fashioned hands-on teaching.”
Jackie Zeigler has 37 years of experience as a teacher and principal. She describes herself as: Christian, Constitutional, Conservative, Church worker, and Common-sensical. Mrs. Zeigler worked as the principal of Mary B. Austin Elementary School; teacher and acting Principal at Dauphin Island’s “Little Red School House” when the Dauphin Island Bridge was out due to Hurricane Frederick; the Title One coordinator at Maryvale Elementary in the Birdville area of Dauphin Island Parkway; Assistant principal of O’Rourke Elementary in west Mobile; and served for four years as adjunct professor of education at Springhill College. Mrs. Zeigler has a BS and MA in elementary education with an Administration/Supervision certificate from the University of South Alabama.
Mrs. Zeigler is married to Alabama State Auditor Jim Zeigler. They have two children.
Carl Myrick is a realtor with Gulf Winds Realty & Development, LLC. From August 2007 to May 2010 he was a teacher and a coach with the Baldwin County Schools System. He has a 2006 degree in Education from Auburn University and a 2010 master’s degree in Education from Grand Canyon University. He is a graduate of Baldwin County High School. Myrick lives in Robertsdale with his wife, Jennifer.
Myrick told Alabama School Connections, “As a former teacher and the son of two retired educators, I bring a wealth of education experience and training to the table. I have a background in technology and can use that knowledge base to make informed decisions as we implement more technology into the classroom setting. I also have the most recent educational training and classroom experience of any of the candidates which is an asset for crafting policies that enhance the classroom setting rather than burden teachers with paperwork and ineffective strategies.”
Adam Bourne is a lawyer, a Chickasaw city councilman and a former Alabama assistant attorney general, having served as legal counsel for the State Elections Division. Bourne later served as the appointed confidential assistant to Alabama’s secretary of state. From 2006 to 2012, Bourne was a staff attorney for Legal Services Alabama, a civil legal aid agency. Bourne represents Mobile County on the State Republican Executive Committee.
Bourne is a former chairman of Chickasaw’s Commercial Development Board and vice-chairman of its Industrial Development Board. Bourne is a graduate of the University of Alabama and is married to the former Jenny Parker, who is a public school teacher. They attend Chickasaw United Methodist Church.
Bourne describes himself as a strong and conservative supporter of public schools. Bourne told Alabama School Connections: “If elected to the State Board of Education, I plan to propose budgets to the legislature that would compensate teachers like the professionals that they are. I also want to see more state support for competitive learning programs, such as debate and robotics. Such programs have been proven to change lives, and it is a travesty that there is virtually no state support for those initiatives. Bake sales can only go so far, after all.”
Bourne told Alabama Education Connections, “Funding for Alabama schools is not adequate. Throughout the state, children are having to share textbooks in classrooms with far too many students. Thankfully, it appears that revenue is increasing due to economic growth. Those additional funds do not constitute a “surplus.” They should be reinvested in our schools and not taken for general fund purposes. The Education Trust Fund should remain in place and should not be combined in any way with the general fund.”
If no candidate receives over 50 percent of the vote the runoff would be on April 12.
The eventual Republican nominee will face Democrat Ronald Davis in the November General Election.