We asked candidates for state and local office to tell us about their views on public education. Here are their answers.
Our Schools First sent a survey to every candidate for state legislature, Iredell County Commission, and Iredell-Statesville Schools Board of Education. OS1 does not endorse or recommend candidates in the 2018 Election–we simply wanted to provide the following information to help guide voters in their decision.
Gen. James Mallory, III
Republican, incumbent Commissioner
Qualifications and Experience
Leadership, training and education, strategic planning
– Four years as Commissioner and Chairman of the Iredell County Board of Commissioners.
– 35 year active and reserve career in the United States Army culminating as the Commanding General of all Army Reserve Basic Training and college ROTC units in the United States and mobilized in 2011 as Deputy Commanding General of the NATO Training Mission in Afghanistan.
– 34 years as practicing attorney in Statesville
– Former member of Iredell County Planning Board and NC Rules Review Commission
– Rotarian for 34 years, Past President 1994-95 and 2014-15 and Assistant Governor (Iredell/Rowan Counties) of District 7680 from 2015-2018.
– Graduate of K-12 public schools; BA from Washington and Lee University; JD from Wake Forest School of Law; Graduate of US Army Command and General Staff College and US Army War College.
– Husband of former Mary Sherrill, Pharmacist and clinical coordinator at Iredell Memorial Hospital.
– Member of Western Avenue Baptist Church and Choir.
– Parent of four graduates from Statesville High School.
– Grandparent of four grandchildren with one more on the way
My dad grew up in Iredell County as did my wife, Mary, where both families have roots going back prior to the Revolution. From a young age I have been influenced by the struggles, service and sacrifice of previous generations to build a better future for their children. My Mom was an Army Brat who moved from post to post around the country growing up, and as my Dad worked for Southern Railway, we “rode the rails” and moved frequently throughout the Southeast during my childhood. The only constant in my early life was spending a couple of weeks every year in Statesville visiting my grandmother and cousins culminating in Homecoming at Snow Creek Methodist Church. After four years of active duty as a paratrooper in the 82d Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, and upon marriage and graduation from Law School at Wake Forest, I resolved to move to Iredell County to practice law and provide a stable community experience for my children. I entered the reserves during law school as a Captain and remained in the Infantry working in a progression of Army Reserve Basic Combat Training, Advanced Individual Training, Schools and ROTC units culminating as the Commanding General of the nationwide 108th Training Command (IET). I retired in 2012 as a Major General after serving as the Deputy Commanding General of the NATO Training Mission – Afghanistan, where we worked to recruit, train, equip and deploy troops to support the Afghan Army, Air Force and Police. Critical to the success of that effort was the introduction of literacy training for new recruits, of which 95% were completely illiterate. By the time they graduated from basic training they could function at the first grade level which, in Afghanistan, qualified as a “learned man” (3rd grade is considered literate by UN standards). Concurrent with my military career I have been in private practice as an attorney in Statesville for 34 years and for the last four years as Chairman of the Iredell County Commission have been working with my teammates on the County Commission, county employees, the Boards of Education and administrations, Mitchell Community College, municipalities, businesses, non-profits, volunteer/community organizations and citizens to establish Iredell County as the premiere community in which to live, work and raise a family.
1. Do you believe that all children in Iredell County, regardless of where they live, are entitled to the same quality of education?
2. Do you think that all children in Iredell County are currently receiving the same quality of education?
Yes, but testing results weighted 80% on achievement vs 20% growth unduly skew results and make it appear that the quality of education differs significantly by individual school grades. Teachers are being successful in challenging and educating all students, but each child starts at a different level of achievement and parental support. Due credit should be given for these circumstances.
3. Do you think that the level of funding for public schools in North Carolina is adequate? If not, do you think it’s the County’s or the State’s responsibility to increase public education funding?
Adequate but not optimal for operational expenses, which is what we should strive to increase given available resources. It is a shared responsibility to provide increased funding by all levels of government – federal, state and local. Iredell County’s share of state and federal per pupil funding is significantly less than the state average based on economic factors used to allocate funds. The county’s contribution for per pupil expenditures is more than average, but the state and federal shortfall places us at a disadvantage compared to other counties. Nevertheless, Iredell County’s operations and capital expenditures are above average for the state, and on average approximately 50% of county expenditures are annually appropriated to support education.
4. Do you support the proposed Iredell County ¼ cent sales tax increase on the November 6, 2018 ballot?
Yes. We have a need to provide a dedicated funding stream to support effective safety, security and well being strategies in our schools which are currently only partly funded through the internal budgets of ISS, MGSD, MCC, the Iredell County Sheriff’s Department and other municipal police departments.The current expenditures come at the expense of core mission requirements of these organizations and will by necessity increase over time to meet potential threats. One quarter of these proposed revenues will help the county meet the growing need for services, especially public safety requirements such as EMS ambulance services. The quarter cent sales tax will spread this burden among all citizens, not just property owners, and be directly tied to economic activity. Nearly half of these revenues will be generated by out of county visitors primarily utilizing hotel and restaurant services. The proposed 7 cent tax is in line with the vast majority of counties contiguous to Iredell County.
5. If you do support the proposed sales tax increase, do you believe that the local School Boards are best equipped to decide how to use additional sales tax revenue for our schools? If not, who is best equipped to make these decisions?
By NC Law the school boards are responsible for making the decisions as to specific appropriations within their overall budgets. To assist the boards in these decisions the County Manager Beth Jones, ISS Superintendent Brady Johnson and the Iredell County Sheriff Darren Campbell have jointly convened a committee consisting of county support, educator, and law enforcement members throughout our communities to identify and evaluate in accordance with National Incident Management System( NIMS) criteria the most effective strategies to prevent and react to internal and external threats to our students and staff. Once these strategies and programs are identified they will be shared with the ISS and MGSD Boards of Education and MCC Board of Trustees to determine funding priorities based on available resources.
6. Are you aware of the recent North Carolina School Report Card which graded all schools in the Iredell County?
Yes. The Iredell County Board of Commissioners previously passed a joint resolution in conjunction with the Iredell Statesville Schools and Mooresville Graded School District urging the NC Legislature to change the grading criteria from 80/20 achievement/growth criteria to 50/50 achievement/growth to address the inequities previously discussed. The Commissioners remain committed to this goal.