By John Keller | Florida
Paul Wolfe is running for school board in Alachua County in Florida. 71 Republic’s own John Keller sat down with him to discuss his campaign and the policies he is running on.
Keller: You are entering a career in politics. What inspired you to run for office?
Wolfe: In this race, my inspiration to run for office came from the Parkland tragedy and subsequent rhetoric being used to push an anti-gun message. I felt that, as opposed to tackling a problem that will never truly be solved on the firearm end, I wanted to help secure our schools against these threats here in Alachua County. My campaign couldn’t be stuck on that single message, so I have chosen to diversify a great deal with school safety still being at the forefront, but many other issues being included and addressed.
Keller: With so much attention drawn to Congress and national politics, what inspired you to run locally?
Wolfe: The saying goes, “All politics are local”. If I choose to run for something larger after my work at the local school board has concluded with positive results, then so be it, but I wanted to start locally to prove myself and that my policies have the ability to work. Also, age restrictions would have prevented me from pursuing any state or national office, so I was forced to take that into consideration as well. When I first started to look for a place to take my ideas, I thought that making the big step to the Florida Legislature would have been bold enough. But, after some thought, I felt it best to go with something that I knew very well, having just been a recent high school graduate: The School Board.
Keller: What three positions define your campaign for school board?
Wolfe: For school board, my first main campaign point is school security, a top priority. Without school security, the learning environment is unsafe and students may be afraid to even come to school. As such, increased partnerships with local police forces and hardening our schools against threats are included in this topic.
My next point is our school facilities. They are crumbling, with many foundations being cracked and flooding being prominent in schools after even heavy rain (the rain being a common occurrence in Florida). In order to address this issue, I have chosen to support our local half-Cent Sales Tax initiative with funding going directly to our school facilities to help fund projects. I have also long advocated for a re-visitation of the school budget to find where inefficiency wreaks havoc on the revenue we already have, and allocate those monies more effectively.
The third point I have chosen to run on is teacher compensation. Our teachers are paid at the bottom of the list on average compared to the rest of Florida, and many counties with a much smaller tax base somehow find themselves being able to afford higher salaries than us. We should revisit our budget, as I mentioned, and find a way to allocate for at least 3% salary increases over each of the next four years, a total of 12%, to get us back on track with the rest of the state.
Keller: What change do you want to see?
Wolfe: Change is something that our school board seems afraid of. Change in leadership, change in policy, change in testing, change in relationships with the state of Florida. We need a younger person, who has seen the problems with public schools, who has experienced them less than two months ago, in order to make these changes happen for the better.
Keller: How can people get involved in your campaign or learn more if interested?
Wolfe: If readers would like to know more, my website is www.paulwolfe4ac.com, my campaign email is [email protected], and my phone number, which can be reached any time between 8am and 8pm, is 352-231-2485.
Keller: Do you have any final remarks to make?
Wolfe: My final remarks would be this: If you wish to see a change in the world, be that change. If you want to see your local municipal government take a direction, run for that office. If you want to see something in your state Constitution change, advocate actively for it. If you want to see our Congress turn from the destructive path it is on, run for that office. By simply talking about change, we do nothing. But running for office, taking charge in local communities of efforts, and being so loud you cannot be ignored can all be ways by which we affect change in our communities. I would like to thank 71Republic and John Keller for giving me this platform on which to communicate these ideas and look forward to answering any questions readers may have on these issues.
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