ELECTION GUIDE — Port Arthur Independent School District candidates include 5 for school board

Published 12:36 am Friday, April 22, 2022

Editor’s note: Ahead of the May 7 election, Port Arthur Newsmedia asked the candidates for the Port Arthur Independent School District trustee election identical questions. Candidates who gave longer answers were informed their responses could be edited for space. Early voting runs from April 25 through May 3.

Dianne Brown

Name: Dianne Brown
Date of birth: March 27, 1955
Profession: Retired educator

Why are you running? I just love being with the kids and feel if they succeed I will succeed, too.

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What is your chief concern? Getting the parents to participate. We have board meetings and it’s difficult to get parents to attend. Back then people would show up. Now they won’t show up until their child receives an award. It will be my primary goal this session.

What makes you the best choice? I’ve been working for the district for 25 years, visiting the schools back and forth, and as a candidate I know what needs to be done. After I retired, I couldn’t stay home. After a year off from the district, a few friends asked me to run and said, ‘you know our needs, why not do it?’ I want to be a voice, not just for the kids but the employees.

Yadi Cardenas

Name: Yadi Cardenas
Date of birth: February 11, 1977
Profession: Stay at home mom, community advocate

Why are you running? I’m running because I have five children that have or are attending PAISD. Two of them are in college, one of them just graduated from Lamar State College Port Arthur in December and is going to graduate (Memorial High School) in May. And I still have two kids in the school district. I want to give back to the school district, to my community. I think it’s important that, as a parent, we have a voice; and having kids in the school district has given me that insight of what we have to do in our school district. Being a parent volunteer has afforded me many opportunities to see and work with our young kids and I want to continue to do that at a higher level.

What is your chief concern? My chief concern is our young people, because if we see the news of late in the past few months, we’ve seen an increase in crime, in criminal activity where it involves our young people. Those are or were students from Port Arthur, from our high schools, and it hurts me as a parent to see that. These children are out there and have destroyed their future, their lives, and not just theirs but others, as well.

I have friends who have lost their kids. I think if we work with the youth more and we put more into them, we’re going to get better results and more success stories than these bad stories we see in the news.

I think it has to take a community effort…from talking and listening to the superintendent and addressing some issues in saying that it starts at home.

What makes you the best choice? I think what makes me the best candidate is that I’m a parent and I think it’s important that parents have a voice, that they have a seat at the table. We bring a different perspective. We don’t have to say ‘I did my research’ or ‘I investigated to find out’ because we get to hear from the teachers. We know what’s going on.

Kimberly Wycoff-Johnson

Name: Kimberly Wycoff-Johnson
Date of birth: June 13, 1985
Profession: Process operator at Valero

What are you running? I am running because there is a change that needs to be done in the district right now.
There’s an ever-changing cycle of youth. There’s always need for bringing a fresh new perceptive to the school board to keep moving forward for a positive change.

What is your chief concern? From polling friends, faculty and staff, one of the main focuses is communication is lacking from faculty to administration. Their main words, per se, were lack of communication; and we definitely need to restore that to where people feel like they are wanted, needed and heard by the district and administration. There’s also a lack of parent involvement. You tell them and they have no idea of the program.

What makes you the best choice? I feel like I’m the best candidate because I’ve been a resident here my entire life. I am a product of PAISD and have really good rapport with the faculty, administration and students. And I am active in student programs. I am a very creative person with ideas to move the district forward in positive direction.

Jacori Narcisse

Name: Jacori Narcisse
Date of birth: June 17, 1988
Profession: Vocational rehabilitation transition counselor

Why are you running? First, this has been the most fun and exciting experience for me. This was the time for me to continue and improve my communication. All my experiences with the district, as a product of the district, substitute in district and my current job in educational service, allows me the opportunity to be an advocate for children and the staff of the Port Arthur Independent School District. I also embrace this journey because it’s time to break barriers and build futures for Port Arthur ISD. It is my goal to ensure my influence on the school board is to be effective and efficient throughout the entire process.

What is your chief concern? My chief concern is education; making sure we are providing the most effective and efficient education to all of the students, to where, after graduation, they are able to thrive in all of their endeavors.

What makes you the best choice? What makes me the best choice is I’m a visionary. And also, we have to be very goal-directed. I’m also a leader. You have to have some effective leadership and I’m committed. I’m accessible and approachable, plus I want to be able to collaborate with other colleagues by being team players, and collaborate effectively and prove what is best for Port Arthur ISD.

NIna Stelly

Name: Nina Stelly
Date of birth: February 23, 1960
Profession: Substitute teacher and associate minister for Antioch Missionary Baptist Church

Why are you running? I am running on a platform to ensure our teachers are treated with respect for what they are doing — they’re professionals. The pandemic has been going on for two years, and they have gone above and beyond. And I really think they’re due a raise. Second, we need to bridge the gap between the home and the classroom. Our parents need take a more active role and become involved in their school and child. Every child can learn, and we can utilize resources we have and make sure we have adequate staff so our children can learn and be successful.

What is your chief concern? First (it) would be the teachers, if they are respected and have a voice. (Teachers) being part policymaking in the district and having input in that. We need to have more teachers involved in decisions of our district.

What makes you the best choice? I am a voice. I feel because of my years of experience being with the district, outside the district, I have experienced certain things. A second thing…is that I have the educational background — a doctorate of divinity.

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