Thursday, June 15, 2006

More on Jesse Hall

While TfK has not gotten a response to email sent to recently announced candidate Jesse Hall (challenging incumbent good guy Janet Waugh in the 1st district Democratic primary), we have been able to dig up a little background. The only coverage of his announcement seems to have been in the Kansas City Kansan:
Hall said his decision to run for the office is motivated by three issues: the dropout rate in Kansas public schools; the need for all students to reach proficiency in basic skills; and the negative impact on the economy brought about by a poorly educated work force.

If elected, Hall said he would stress educational strategies that insure students learn basic educational skills such as reading, writing and math.

In his announcement to a group of supporters at his home, Hall said, “A high quality education for all children positively affects our area’s economy and dramatically improves a child’s likelihood of achieving personal success A quality education dramatically reduces the probability of involvement with drugs and other criminal behavior. However, we are failing to help the growing at risk student population, which is falling through the cracks. We must correct this failure.

“I want to emphasize that I am not pointing fingers at local education officials. I am optimistic because of the open mindedness I see in local education authorities as they look for alternatives with which to empower local neighborhood stakeholders. Local stakeholders are relatives, neighbors, businesses, educators and the law enforcement community who care about at risk kids.”
Hall's wife teaches in the KCK schools, he works as a school interventionist. He is the parent liaison for Central Middle School in KCMO, has coached football and basketball. He sued the NBA in the '80s, claiming they didn't hire him as an NBA referee because of his race.

The Kansas Secretary of State also lists him as the "resident agent" for the Salem Baptist Church in KCK, a church founded in 1981.

And that leaves intriguing questions. While most Democrats, even religious Democrats, oppose teaching creationism. But religious African-Americans, while strongly Democratic, tend to be more supportive of creationism. In the SUSA poll taken earlier this month, African Americans were more likely to back a candidate who supports teaching only evolution than the public at large, but less likely than most Democrats.

The final intriguing question is raised by the fact that Leavenworth County's Commissioner Don Navinsky, is Hall’s campaign treasurer. Navinsky is stepping down after 12 years in that office, and its surprising to see a Democratic official signing on to challenge an incumbent in Kansas.

I've sent him an email seeking comment on his positions on science standards, sex ed, Bob Corkins, and what he regards as the most important issue that people aren't talking about. I've yet to hear back. I do know that Janet Waugh expected a conservative challenge in the primary, and I can't yet rule that out.