James Alan Hollinger, one of 18 candidates vying for an appointment to the Lawrence school board seat vacated by Kristie Adair last month, has now filed for election to the board. Hollinger, a longtime Douglas County Public Works employee, joins Melissa Johnson as one of two school board candidates to enter the race for the three school board seats up for election this fall.
School board president Marcel Harmon and vice president Shannon Kimball have said recently that a candidate’s willingness to run for election — and retain Adair’s vacated seat after the end of her term in January 2018 — would be an important factor in appointing the new board member.
There are three seats up for election this year on the school board: those currently filled by Harmon and longtime board member Vanessa Sanburn, and the one left vacant by Adair’s departure last month. All are four-year terms.
“My interest in the school board is twofold,” Hollinger told board members at a public forum March 13, first referencing the equity issues that have dominated school board meetings and public discussions within the district recently.
“I believe that all students should have a fair, equal and safe opportunity to learn at the school level,” he continued. “… They should have all the tools they need to get that accomplished, so that when they do leave school, they’re going to be successful adults, whether they go to college, pursue the military as a career or do some sort of technical training.”
Hollinger, 46, “grew up all over the place” as the son of an Air Force service member, but has called Lawrence home since 2001. After graduating from high school, he went on to study pre-veterinary medicine at Kansas State University from 1990 to 1995, ultimately hitting pause on higher education before taking up jobs in the agricultural and landscaping industries from 2000 to 2006. Hollinger, now a vegetation control specialist, has worked for the Douglas County Public Works department since 2006.
Now, with his older son having since graduated from Lawrence High School and his younger son set to graduate this spring, Hollinger said he’s interested in strengthening the schools that have served his family over the years. Aside from equity issues, Hollinger has also said funding — and seeing that “curriculums and programs” are adequately provided for — will be one of his top priorities as a school board candidate.
While in college, Hollinger did some fundraising work for the K-State pre-veterinary club, he said, and also while teaching character development to cadets in the Civil Air Patrol in more recent years. Currently, Hollinger said he serves on the employee fund committee at Douglas County Public Works.
He’s also told the Journal-World he’s interested in maintaining the district’s technical education programs, “making sure they’re still available to students.”
“Not all kids are going to go to college,” Hollinger has said. “And not all kids are going to serve in the military.”
The deadline to file for the school board is June 1. A primary election, if needed, will be held Aug. 1, and the general election is slated for Nov. 7.
Candidates filing for 2017 Lawrence school board election● Melissa Johnson
● James Alan Hollinger
● Steve Wallace
● Ronald “G.R.” Gordon-Ross
● Kelly Jones
● Jill Hayhurst
● Gretchen Lister