District manager for pizza chain files for election to Lawrence school board

photo by: Contributed

Lawrence school board candidate Brandon Moore, pictured here with his children.

A district manager for area Little Caesars restaurants has filed for election to the Lawrence school board.

Brandon Moore, who has worked in the restaurant industry since his teens, has owned restaurant franchises in both Johnson and Shawnee counties. He has previously been involved with Friends of JCDS — a nonprofit dedicated to providing housing, assistance with basic needs and other support programs for adults with disabilities in Johnson County — and Boys and Girls Clubs of Topeka, and he has partnered with both agencies multiple times for fundraising events.

Moore’s son just graduated from high school, and his daughter will be a junior at Lawrence High School this fall.

Moore grew up in Eudora, but his family lived in Topeka when his children were younger, and he was involved with the Parent-Teacher Association there. More recently, Moore has been involved with Lawrence’s school district as a chaperone for his son’s forensics trips and at events like After Prom.

“I want to be able to leave a lasting legacy and say this is something I helped — I don’t want to say ‘fixed,’ because I don’t think our schools are broken, but I think that there’s a lot of improvement that needs to occur,” Moore said.

Moore said seeing both Pinckney and Broken Arrow elementary schools close at the end of the semester was his main motivator to file for election. Having been in the restaurant industry long enough to have needed to close restaurants himself, Moore said he isn’t sure the district made all the right decisions when it comes to its recent school closures — especially given how heavily it seemed to affect the east side of the city, where his family are residents.

“I think that maybe it wasn’t completely necessary to lose some of the great things that we had about Lawrence in that process,” Moore said.

Moore wants to put pressure on state lawmakers to fully fund schools, and he wants to advocate for the arts — which he said often seem to be a budget target even though they offer “the unseen” an opportunity for inclusion — and for the LGBTQ+ community.

Moore said he was also concerned about ballooning class sizes becoming detrimental to teachers’ ability to work one on one with students.

“I’ve got two pretty amazing kids and a lot of good parents and teachers that have encouraged me to run for a while now, and I think that this is the right time so that we can come together and make a difference and stop the bitterness about the problems that we’re having,” Moore said.

The terms of school board President Shannon Kimball, Vice President Paula Vann, Past President Erica Hill and board member Carole Cadue-Blackwood will expire at the end of this year. So far, Cadue-Blackwood is the only incumbent to file for reelection. Along with Moore, newcomers Rachel Stumblingbear, Anne Costello, Yolanda Franklin, Kevin Coronado, Ariel Miner and Edward (E.J.) Gonzales have filed for election.

Additionally, Justine Burton has filed specifically for the seat vacated when former school board member Andrew Nussbaum resigned in 2022, less than seven months after being sworn in. The school board appointed GR Gordon-Ross to fill Nussbaum’s seat through the end of the year, triggering a special election as part of the November 2023 general election that will determine who holds the seat through January of 2026. Burton is the only candidate to have filed for that two-year term so far, and she also has filed for election to the Lawrence City Commission.

Right before the weekend, school board member Kay Emerson announced that she was resigning her seat to pursue an opportunity in another community. Emerson’s term began in 2022 and was scheduled to run through 2025, and she was one of three school board members to vote against the recently approved closures of Pinckney and Broken Arrow elementary schools. A special school board meeting to decide how to fill Emerson’s unexpired term will be held Wednesday.

The filing deadline for the Lawrence school board race is noon Thursday. If the number of candidates who file is more than three times the number of open seats, a primary will be scheduled for Aug. 1. The general election is set for Nov. 7.


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