After an unsuccessful bid last spring for a spot on the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District Board of Education, Ryan Murdock prevailed Tuesday in his second appearance on the municipal ballot.
Murdock and incumbent Julie Doane, who currently serves as the board’s vice president, won a four-way race for two open seats on the R-7 school board.
Last year, Murdock finished sixth with less than 10 percent of the vote in an 11-candidate field.
With the field considerably thinned out, Murdock finished a solid second with more than 30 percent of the vote behind Doane, who was reelected with more than 36 percent of the vote. He credited last year’s unsuccessful campaign for raising his profile, if nothing else.
“First off, I think I actually had the name recognition within the community, which goes a long way obviously” Murdock said. “But I think even more than that, I tried to make sure and promote to people that I wanted to be a voice of parents throughout the district since I have young kids in the district.”
One of those children, Isaac, is wheelchair-bound, so Murdock also campaigned as a champion of students with special needs.
“I really wanted to make sure people knew that about me and that I wasn’t ashamed or anything of that,” Murdock said. “Sometimes, we lack representation for those kinds of groups, so I wanted to be sure people knew I’d be a voice for them as well.”
Isaac is paralyzed from the waist down due a spinal deformity. His twin brother, Eli, is ambulatory.
“I would like to see our district make sure that we are being more proactive than reactive to special-needs situations and populations,” Murdock said.
He was able to relate his own family’s experience with the district and accommodating Isaac — which has been challenging for Murdock and his wife, Kristi, at times — and are often issues that can be planned for as foreseeable.
Of course, that’s not his only priority, though Murdock vowed to engage with other board members and Superintendent Dennis Carpenter before locking into an immediate agenda.
“I want the superintendent to lead and take my cues from him,” Murdock said. “From a community standpoint, the buzz is safety and security of schools then, obviously as we get into the master plan of facilities, how are we going to draw our district lines to make sure that … enrollment isn’t going through the roof at certain buildings.”
Doane was pleased and humbled to be reelected. She said facilities and raising test scores were among her priorities for the next three years.
“Making sure the students come first,” Doane said.
During Carpenter’s first year, she said she’s seen progress, but believes even more positive gains are possible.
“There’s still things we can improve just doing it the Lee’s Summit way, the collaborative way is what I will be pursuing,” Doane said.
John Schuler, a longtime educator, captured more than 20 percent of the vote and Michael McMenus received more than 12 percent.