Weatherford Democrat

April 24, 2013

Q&A: Profiles for the races for places 4,5 on Weatherford ISD board

Weatherford Democrat

— Here is a look at the candidates seeking the seats of places 4 and 5 on the WISD school board. Incumbent Gail Wirtanen is being challenged by Jeromy Puckett for the Place 4 seat, while Place 5 incumbent Charlie Martinez is opposed by Joshua Tarbay. Early voting begins Monday, and Election Day is May 11. We will profile the three WISD Place 3 candidates in an upcoming edition.


Name: Jeromy Puckett

Age: 39

Occupation: business owner (Pro-Tech HVAC Solutions Inc. in Weatherford)

Family: wife, Chastity Puckett, first grade interventionist at Raymond E. Curtis Elementary; and sons,  Dylan Puckett, 16, a sophomore at WHS, and Jordan Puckett, 12, a sixth grader at Austin Elementary.


Why are you running for school board?

I was born, raised and reside in Weatherford. My passion for the well-being of this community runs over 30 years deep. The future of the youth in a community that I love is extremely important to me. I have spent over 19 years working with the youth, in WISD, coaching football and I have always had a passion to encourage children be as successful as possible on and off  the field. Being on the school board would allow me to further support children and  help them be successful in academics and electives, and help students foster skills to support them during their time in Weatherford ISD and after they have graduated.

As a graduate of WHS, I remember the days when the community had a strong Kangaroo pride. Businesses would all wear blue on game days and you could feel the excitement everywhere. I was proud to be a Roo, and I want my children and other children to feel that same passion. Strong pride equals a strong community. When students are proud of their school they become proud of themselves, and pride equals success. I want every student in WISD to be proud to say they are a student at WISD!


Any prior experience running for office?

No, but I have served several years on youth association boards. I served as the vice president of the Northwest Texas Youth Association board that governed multiple cities, and as a vice president of the Weatherford Optimist club.

Are you in favor of the $107.32 million bond proposal? Why or why not?

Yes. Many of our campuses are at a crucial stage of need, security and expansion. This cannot be overlooked because it will impede the welfare and success of students.


Name: Gail Wirtanen

Occupation: sales

Family: two children, Susan and Sandra

Why are you running for school board?

As I see it, a successful school district leads to a successful community. My time on the school board has afforded me the opportunity to give back to this wonderful community and insure our kids are given the best opportunity to succeed.

Any prior experience running for office?

I don’t consider myself a politician and my only experience running for public office is my service to the school board.

Are you in favor of the $107.32 million bond proposal? Why or why not?

I am committed to the passage of the bond and its benefit for our kids. The last time we asked the community to support a bond election was 14 years ago, in 1999. With the growth in Weatherford, changes in technology and societal changes, I would say we have been very good stewards of the public’s funds.

The bond addresses four critical areas: capacity, safety/security, technology and capital improvements.

Capacity: overcrowding at the K-6 elementary schools is a concern. We have students in portable buildings and attending classes in areas of the school not intended for classroom instruction. The bond will address this by adding a ninth-grade wing to the high school, using the Main Street campus for seventh and eighth with Hall and Tison housing fifth and sixth. This would keep our existing neighborhood elementary schools but change them to K-4.

Safety and security: The safety of our students and staff is always at the forefront of our decisions. We will have a self-contained high school campus, eliminating shuttles. Each campus will receive secure entry areas, security cameras, improved exterior lighting, fencing, keyless entry and upgrades to the classroom door-locking systems. Portable buildings will be removed.

Technology: Upgrades to the technology infrastructure, classroom interactive whiteboards and student access to state of the art technology will be included.

Capital improvements: The list of needed capital improvements is extensive, including a complete renovation of Hall, a modern Career and Technology center, roofing, heating and air systems, lighting fixtures and moving the athletic fields to the main campus.


Name: Dr. Joshua Tarbay

Age: 35

Occupation: department chair, Kinesiology – associate professor

Family: wife Susan (for 10 years) and daughters Brenna Kate, 7, and Morgan Marie, 6.


Why are you running for school board?

Education is what I do, it is what I have always done. I live the themes discussed in the board meetings each and every day. Not to mention, my daughters are WISD pupils. I have a certain expertise, a certain set of skills, that do not apply to all aspects of society … but they do apply to the school board!


Any prior experience running for office?

I was selected to be a precinct delegate and then an alternate delegate to the Republican State Convention in Fort Worth in 2012. I have held no other office. I am a full-time teacher.

Are you in favor of the $107.32 million bond proposal? Why or why not?

Long term, this bond would hurt the educational capabilities of the district by limiting options and handcuffing the budget to not one … but TWO outstanding bonds (until 2044)! Who knows what the future holds?

I would beg the voting public to peel back the curtain and ask themselves the very same question my wife and I asked each other: “Is this bond comprised of WANTS or NEEDS”? New bus garage? Softball/baseball complex? More cameras? Career center? Ninth grade gym? As teachers, my wife and I are in favor of anything that helps education … therefore, we are opposed to this bond.


Name: Charlie Martinez

Occupation: small business owner in Weatherford for over 20 years as a tailor/clothier/certified professional dry cleaner.

Family: my wife, Cathy, and I have five children and 10 grandchildren. Currently our daughter-in-law is an educator in WISD and two granddaughters are students in our district.

Why are you running for school board?

I feel that my 12 years of dedicated service and accumulation of over 378 hours of Continuing Education awarded by Texas Association of School Boards, in addition to prior service on Campus Improvement Teams, District Leadership Team and Strategic Planning Team and Education Foundation Board, qualify me as a valuable, contributing member of this board.

Being bilingual has afforded me the opportunity to share information with families of our Spanish-speaking students and community members. As a strong supporter of “Making Education a Priority,” serving on this board has been a most rewarding way of giving back to our community.

Any prior experience running for office?

I am seeking my fifth term on the Weatherford ISD Board of Trustees, Place 5.

Are you in favor of the $107.32 million bond proposal? Why or why not?

I am in support of the bond. It has been 14 years since the last bond and it is again time to address overcrowding issues as well as an opportunity for improvements in safety and security and athletic facilities along with capital improvements on all campuses.

A new Career and Technology Center has been included to better provide for alternate career paths for those students who may not have the option to attend college. The additions of ninth grade wings and career and technology along with athletic facilities create a safer environment for our students because they will no longer need to travel off campus to access these programs.

This is in keeping with our district mission statement: “To teach, challenge, and inspire EACH student in a safe, nurturing environment to succeed in the global community.” The board worked along with approximately 50 community leaders to put together a bond package to present to our community for consideration. With the passage of this bond it is expected to satisfy facility needs in our district for the next 10 years.