The League of Women Voters invited all candidates to provide answers to several questions. At vote411.org, voters can enter their address and find candidates who will be on their ballot. Here are the answers that I have provided. Mlive included these answers in an online article that was posted yesterday. As of their deadline, only John Brandow, Eric VanGessel, and I had answered the questions. I believe it is still possible for other candidates to provide answers for vote411.org.
Here is my bio paragraph:
James Ernest, 63, is vice president and editor-in-chief of Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. He has spent 25 years in academic book publishing and seven years in management of a major publishing company. He’s earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and ancient languages, a master’s degree in classical studies, a master’s of divinity, and a PhD in the history of Christian life and thought. He is father of Caledonia graduates.
Why are you running for office?
Our school board needs competent, intelligent trustees who understand the role of the school board and will put students’ needs over partisan political aims. Cal schools have an excellent reputation and history. Our schools need to be protected from activism grounded in disinformation, resentment, and partisan political ideology. I am grateful for the education Cal schools gave my children, and I am ready to give back by helping to preserve and grow our schools for the good of our community. I have grieved over the polarization of our society in recent years. During the Covid pandemic I saw efforts to force division and polarization down to the level of our schools. I am not a politician, but I am an educated educator. Education is where I can step up and serve. My ability to listen and understand conflicting cultural interpretations and aims, and my willingness to discern between misinformation and truth and stand for the latter, will serve our school board well.
What is the greatest challenge facing the office you seek? How will you address it?
I see two main challenges.
(1) Economic forces during Covid time have driven costs up for vital construction and maintenance projects. We need to focus attention and expertise on this issue, and other concerns that fall under the board’s purview. I have experience in managing finances in order to enable continuance in a mission that is essentially noncommercial.
(2) We face severe cultural challenges. Public education is under assault, and tactics in this assault include using disinformation about sensitive issues around race and sexuality to stir public anger and incite chaos. Agitators confuse the public about things like CRT, SEL, DEI, and some candidates promise to use school board to do things that school board cannot do. I have the intellectual equipment to debunk the disinformation and the patience to understand and address legitimate concerns that leave so many of our people susceptible to the incitements of agitators.
What strategies would you use to remain responsive and accountable to the public between elections?
I will invite members of the public to set up in-person or virtual meetings with me and to send me email, text, or voice messages when they have concerns they would like to see addressed. Members of the public are invited to speak at school board meetings. I will listen and will reach out to speakers who have concerns that I am able to investigate or otherwise address.