John Fierro on Monday announced he would run as a write-in candidate for the Kansas City Public Schools board of directors, after only one person met filing deadlines for a seat on the board.
Fierro, president and chief executive of the nonprofit Mattie Rhodes Center, identified himself in a news release as a concerned grandparent and civic leader. Mattie Rhodes, a social services organization, has served families in greater Kansas City for more than 100 years.
The nonprofit leader wants to represent Subdistrict 3 on the board.
Currently that seat is held by Marisol Montero, who has not filed to run again. Subdistrict 3 comprises most of the neighborhoods in the historic Northeast (north of Independence Avenue), the West Side and the Coleman Highlands neighborhood (west of Southwest Trafficway and south to 37th Street).
The election will take place on April 5.
A graduate of Westport High School and Rockhurst University, Fierro said he had no intention of running for the board but “the absence of qualified candidates at the election filing deadline was very troublesome and disturbing.”
Two of the three people who filed to run for the board failed to obtain enough valid signatures to be placed on the ballot for the race.
Neither Bryan Dial, who filed for the Subdistrict 5 seat, nor Jessica Piedra, who filed for the Subdistrict 3 seat, collected the 250 qualified signatures. And no one took a shot at filling a seat in Subdistrict 1, which is the third-largest by population in the school district.
Board chairman Jon Hile has said he is disappointed at the seeming lack of interest in the school board. Hile holds the Subdistrict 1 seat. His term on the board expires this year and he is not running for re-election.
Fierro is the first to announce he’s running as a write-in candidate. He and his wife, Loretta, are Kansas City natives and live in the West Side neighborhood. They have four children, six grandchildren and a great-grandchild.
“I think I can make a difference by advocating for public education needs and weaving those needs into every conversation in Kansas City,” Fierro said in his announcement.
This is the second time in the last three election cycles where school board seats ended up filled by write-in candidates.
In 2012, Airick Leonard West got on the board for a second term as a write-in candidate because no one filed to run for the at-large seat he had held. Since he is not running again, his at-large seat will be filled by Jennifer Wolfsie. The parent leader was the only candidate to obtain enough qualified signatures by filing deadline.
Whoever ends up on the board this year will be working with a new superintendent. The current board has picked Mark Bedell, an assistant superintendent of high schools for Baltimore County schools in Maryland, as its preferred candidate for the job.