In an effort to help the public make informed decisions in the upcoming Consolidated Election April 4th, we at WROY/WRUL News asked candidates in the contested races for the City of Carmi to fill out a short questionnaire.
Kent “Pete” Fulkerson
Carmi-White County Unit #5 Board of Education
- Tell us a little about yourself.
My family moved to Carmi in 1955, and I graduated from Carmi Township High School in 1970, going on to attend Eastern Illinois University where I obtained a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Education. After graduation I worked in the education field and airline industry before returning to White County in 1980 where I began my career in banking. I am currently in my 37th year of banking, serving as the Senior Risk Management Officer for First Bank and its nine branches. Currently I serve on the Board of Directors of the White County Evergreen Acres Living Center and the Carmi Recreational Summer League, while also serving as Board Treasurer of the Carmi Public Library. My wife, Kelly, is the White County Circuit Clerk, my son, KaCee, is an 8th grader here in Carmi, and my daughter, Rachel, is a teacher in Newburgh. My hobbies including traveling, antiques, local history, and working in the yard.
- Why do you want to serve?
I was appointed to the School Board on 2/16/16, replacing Rick Kuykendall who moved to Edwardsville. I was honored by Rick and other School Board members to be considered for the position last year, and feel that the past year has been a very eyeopening & educational experience for me, learning about the financial needs & sources of a local school system, the problems we face in hiring & retaining qualified employees whether certified or non-certified, setting priorities in maintaining older buildings while ensuring a safe learning environment. Serving on the Board’s 5-year Strategic Planning Committee last year with school administrators, business leaders, retired & current teachers, and others provided me insight into the challenges ahead for our school system and our strengths & weaknesses as seen by insiders and others in our community. Together we created a Strategic Plan that I have a vested interest in – one 2 that impacts my 14-year old son, his classmates, and other current & future students and teachers in the system. I hope the votes will allow me the opportunity to continue on with the Board in accomplishing the goals set forth within our Strategic Plan.
- What are the biggest issues you see facing your desired position? How do you plan to address these issues?
Already having served one year on the School Board, over the next four years we as a team will need to continue to work on (1) ways to efficiently & economically maintain our aging educational centers while looking for other more modern, cost-effective, energy efficient options down the road, (2) maintain the fiscal responsibility the Board put in place 5 years ago while continuing to build up our cash reserves, (3) work with the teachers’ union to sign a multi-year salary contract which will assist the Board in fiscal planning as we continue to weather the state budgeting backlog and the potential for less local tax funds in the years ahead with the closure of our local coal mine, and (4) look for ways to expand our classroom options at the High School level with career opportunities for nursing, electrical & plumbing, and other skillsets that hopefully will provide students the opportunity to stay and work in our community in the years ahead. As a member of the current Board, I/we are receptive to input from community leaders, teachers, professionals, students, local junior college administrators, and others who want to work together in facing these challenges, analyzing options, setting goals, and putting plans into action that will benefit everyone in our community and the overall long-term health of White County.
- What sets you apart from the other candidates? Why should voters choose you on April 4th?
I’m not a politician nor a one-man solution to any problems our school system may be facing today or tomorrow – whether we are talking about social, financial, or political issues. However, I am a team player, and it takes a School Board working together as a team, bringing their strengths, knowledge & experience to the table to ensure that we always continue to look out for the best interests of our children, district employees, & taxpayers as we move forward in this ever-changing world of ours. I’m not one to seek public attention or put myself first – actions speak louder than words, thus since my return to my hometown and White County in 1980 I have always worked behind the scenes in community organizations, activities & events to get jobs done. My hometown roots, my expertise in banking, and my contacts within local businesses & other community organizations fuel my personal desire & drive to see our local school district’s graduates succeed wherever life’s path leads them. I hope the voters will support me in continuing my time on the School Board in serving our students and community, as my door is always open to their concerns and suggestions as we work together to make our school system and community stronger in the years ahead.