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By Lacey Gardner

School board candidate Heather Gill letter to Wellsville School District voters

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“I hope you will give me the privilege of continuing to represent our community as a Board of Education member”

Dear WCS Community Members,

I would like to use this opportunity to be candid with you all about what I find to be the most challenging aspects of being a member of the Board of Education. School Boards have to maintain a unique balance between our responsibility to the School District, the tax payers, and our students and families. More often than not, this leaves board members in a situation where making the right decisions still disappoints or lets down someone in that equation. Twice now, I have sworn an oath to do this job in accordance with the Constitution and the law to the best of my ability. The reason they make us swear in? Because respecting the rights of everyone, requires making unpopular decisions without the ability to defend yourself.

At the core of almost every issue regarding students or staff that reach us as a board, is that individual’s right to privacy. That is a hard line that good, bad or otherwise, is the end all be all of the conversation. The public curiosity and the need for answers when your family is impacted, has to come second to the right to privacy. One thing I think most people can agree on, is that our right to privacy has been greatly diminished over the last 20 years. But on a local level, we have the ability to decide to respect and protect the rights of our neighbors. As a Board Member, it’s not a choice it’s a responsibility.

The truth is, when the school board is presented with a matter of discipline for anyone within the district, the job becomes incredibly heavy. Decisions made within a School District, and subsequently by the Board of Education, can have a profound impact on the lives of those involved. When that happens, there is a ripple effect, it is felt by the loved ones and friends of those involved. I take that responsibility incredibly seriously. I read every email you send me, I read the comments on local topics, I take it all in. When you come to a board meeting and speak, I take it all in. When I don’t agree, I set my bias aside and try to put myself in your shoes to find the common ground. And when the decisions I stand behind impact you or yours, I accept however you feel about me, without judgement.

I cannot promise to make each and every one of you happy in my role on the Board of Education, that is an impossible promise to keep. What I can promise you, is that I genuinely care about the families in our community. That I am someone who cares deeply about creating a world that allows our children to access their full potential. Everyday when I show up as an advocate for families and children in our community, I do so with the loved ones I’ve lost to addiction and mental illness heavy on my heart. I’ve seen first hand what happens to the forgotten, and those who’ve fallen through the cracks. Filling those cracks, increasing opportunities, and bringing awareness to the needs of our community – that’s what motivates me. That is why I hope you will give me the privilege of continuing to represent our community as a Board of Education member.

I want to take a moment to thank you all for the opportunity to serve our community as a Board of Education member for the last six years. Please vote on May 21st, whether to grant me a third term or to make way for new voices, please vote.

Sincerely,

Heather Gill

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