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Sunday, September 21, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 56.0° F  Overcast
The Paper
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A quiet race for seat on the Madison school board
Candidates stress their commitment to kids
Don Gors and Arlene Silveira
Don Gors and Arlene Silveira

Like many Madison parents, Don Gors believes firmly in being involved in his kids' education. That's led him to seek a seat on the Madison school board in the April 7 election.

"Everyone should want everyone to run because you want diverse experience and diverse thinking and diverse views to accomplish great results," says Gors, 58, of his bid for Seat 1. "They say this takes a lot of commitment. Commitment is not always time, it's being committed to following through."

The seat is held by one-term incumbent and current school board President Arlene Silveira, 50. (Also on the ballot is Seat 2, where incumbent Lucy Mathiak is running uncontested.)

The Gors-Silveira race is characterized by its remarkable lack of noise - or, for that matter, visibility. There have been no public forums or debates for voters to learn about the candidates, and no other real public airing of issues. Silveira says that, in lieu of any public debate, she's been responding to individual voters and using social media, mainly a Facebook page her daughter set up.

But there's a reason this race is so un-race like: Gors has no real beef with Silveira.

Here's a rundown on the candidates and issues:

Gors, who owns a small service business, lives on Madison's west side. His daughter currently attends Memorial High School, from which his other two daughters graduated; all three attended Crestwood Elementary School and Jefferson Middle School.

For Gors, the number-one school issue is safety. He also wants to minimize the focus on demographics in education and implement transparency standards to "create services that people can readily plug into and see."

Silveira, a Fitchburg resident and marketing director at Promega Corp., has one daughter at West High School. She's running again because "continuity in leadership is important," especially now that the district has a new superintendent, Dan Nerad, and is undergoing a community-based strategic planning process.

If reelected, Silveira would focus on curriculum, resources, facilities, staffing and other issues to raise the achievement level of all students amid "rapidly changing demographics and a broken state funding system." She'd promote school safety and security.

A lot of the answers to problems, Silveira says, will come from the public "strategic planning" sessions that began this winter and are expected to wrap up in May or June with a plan for the school board.

Gors agrees it's an important process, but feels the need for "more input and more participation."

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