With less than a week left before voters head to the polls, candidates for Carthage Board of Education and City Council faced the public in a forum hosted by the Carthage Chamber of Commerce.
All three candidates for Carthage R-9 Board of Education were on hand, but only two of the candidates for City Council, both running for the Ward 4 seat, spoke at the forum.
Sheila VonHolten, the challenger for Carthage Board of Education, opened the forum.
VonHolten, was a cosmetologist for 20 years before getting her associates degree in paralegal services. She operates a photography studio in Carthage.
VonHolten said she wants to be involved in schools whether she’s elected to the Board of Education or not.
“I will never use my paralegal degree, but I’m telling you what, there is nothing better than education,” VonHolten said. “I’m 40 years old, I work full time, I have a seven-year-old daughter, I’m a fulltime wife and education is very important, and I noticed when I started going to school boards and getting involved with the school that the school board does an awesome job.”
VonHolten said she would work to improve the physical fitness of children in the Carthage district, if elected. She said she lived in Pierce City for a year and admired the commitment to physical fitness in that school district.
Michael Goolsby, has served on the Carthage Board of Education for six years. He’s lived in Carthage for 15 years and works at Leggett & Platt.
Goolsby said the district has improved over the past six years he’s been on the board and he wants to help continue that improvement.
“We have rising test scores,” Goolsby said. “We set new records for the MAP test, that’s the Missouri Assessment test, new records for the last three years, each year over year, in our scores on that test. We’ve been accredited with distinction for the last three years. That’s the highest honor that the state can give a school district so getting accredited with distinction and last year scoring 14 out of 14 on the measurement points that they come and look at is a fine accomplishment.”
Goolsby said the improvement in the district is “reflective of the excellent members of the school board we have right now and all the excellent candidates we’ve had since I’ve become involved.”
Lee Elliff-Pound, a member of the board for the past seven years, talked about the “face of education today.”
Pound works for the Alumni Association at Missouri Southern State University.
“Working for higher education for the past 15 years and working for the school board for the past seven years has afforded me the opportunity to better understand the needs of our Carthage students,” Pound said. “I’ve served on a variety of committees throughout my time on the board and I’ve continued to learn what needs not only our children have but what needs our teachers, staff and administration face daily.”
Pound said if she’s reelected to the board, she wants to work on the district’s Hungry Tiger program, which provides food for children who don’t have food at home with a supply of food to take home with them.
“A child cannot learn if a child is worried about what is not in their stomach, or how hungry they are,” Pound said. “We are, right now, feeding 16 families through this program. And we’d like to expand it if we can.”
Most of the candidates running for City Council on Tuesday were no-shows for this event.
The exceptions were the two men vying for the seat in Ward 4 being vacated by former Carthage Fire Chief John Cooper.
Lee Carlson said he moved to Carthage 12 years ago. He served on the council for one year before last year’s election.
He works as manager of the Broadview Country Club.
Carlson said he’s not a native-born Carthaginian, “but I have to say I chose to be a Carthage citizen and that means a lot.”
“That’s the biggest reason I run for city council is that I their home to be the best it can be,” Carlson added. “I’m very proud to be in Carthage and I hope to win the election.”
Dick Fanning was born in Carthage but he moved away to Texas for 25 years from 1954-1980.
Fanning said he worked his entire career for a Carthage company. His father was a Carthage businessman and served on the Carthage City Council and his grandfather was a wardsman from the first ward.
“In Carthage, change and progress take place slowly,” Fanning said. “When I moved back to town, I could see some big changes — some good — some not so good. At one time, Carthage was the place where everyone wanted to live. Carthage was known as the Queen City of the Ozarks. Carthage could not be exceeded.
“I do not like seeing rundown houses, buildings, trash and vacant lots in Carthage. Do you realize there are four vacant restaurants between the Roundabout and Fairview Street? What has happened?”