Harold Nicholson, Jr., candidate for the Whitehall School Board.
Today, I post a candidate interview with Harold Nicholson, Jr., candidate for the school board. He is one of seven candidates running for two seats on the Whitehall School Board. Voting is Tuesday, May 17th. I mailed candidate questionnaires to all those running in this year’s election and will post their responses in the order received. Below are my questions and Mr. Nicholson’s responses.
Could you please tell us about yourself and why you are running for the school board?
I have always felt a desire to help my community, I was born and raised in Gansevoort, but having lived in numerous places in the area, my wife and I settled in Whitehall and have made this our hometown. I am running for a number of reasons, I don’t represent any special interests other than the academic successes of all the students that attend Whitehall Central School District. I believe that we can return our school to the top, and that I am the man to help our school reach that goal. I am running for school board because although we are getting better, we are not even close to where we should be and I feel it is my responsibility to help.
When you were growing up, who was someone you really admired? Why did you admire them?
Growing up multiple individuals earned my admiration. I was surrounded by great people, tremendous civic pillars, but my most admired was Mr. Edward LaFave. Mr. LaFave was not merely my sixth grade teacher, but I had the pleasure to call him mentor. Mr. LaFave was the deputy mayor of the village of South Glens Falls for decades and ran the village with pride and decency for all those that lived in the village. He would listen to anyone that would come to him with problems or concerns and handled adversity with dignity and a level head. He still remains an active volunteer within the Boy Scouts of America and is an outspoken supporter of civic duty and pride in our country. Not only did Mr. LaFave teach those under him, but he also taught through example. He lives his life with an understanding that those around him are just as important as himself, and gives to those that have the least.
Name a leader on the state or national level that you think does a good job advocating to make things better for all of us? Why do you believe this?
This question goes to, what I believe, is one of the fundamental problems with our current governmental system. I don’t know of any particular leader that currently does what I would consider a great job advocating for the greater good. It is my belief that representatives don’t spend nearly enough time listening to their constituents and then following through with what is best for everyone. Senator Betty Little does one of the best jobs in our area. She actually listens to her constituents, and can actually be seen around town, at meetings, and making an effort for us. I have had the pleasure of knowing her for some years now and have seen her on a number of occasions remember individuals by name and can remember what it was she helped them with. The problem with attempting to make things better for everyone is that sometimes that makes things worse for some and better for others. The goal is finding a balance and not unduly burdening one group for the benefit of the whole.
From the 2004-2005 school year until the 2014-2015 school year, total enrollment has declined from 885 students to 736 students. However, the property tax levy increased every one of these years. How will you be an advocate for the taxpayers of the district?
The issue of taxes, especially for the Town of Dresden, as it pertains to the school has been an issue for a number of years, but it is an issue that is all too frequently felt the hardest by those that do not have the ability to pay. There are a number of programs that the school could invest in that would decrease overall expenses. The first would be to look into alternative energy sources. Current solar technology has greatly surpassed my expectations and decreasing operating costs would only be prudent. Tying into that idea the replacement of our aging heating and cooling system would also yield major benefits. The current efficiency ratings for our systems are too low to sustain. Another way of decreasing the tax bill is to stop excess. Wasteful spending is always an issue, and curtailing that my fiduciary responsibility. I would love to see our school be at the forefront of STEAM style learning, and by doing that we can actually make money for our school by charging other schools for our services, including distance learning.
The area that encompasses the Whitehall School district is experiencing serious economic challenges. How would you work on the school board to address these challenges? Do you believe there is a correlation between higher spending, rising property taxes and economic decline?
There is a direct correlation between the quality of the school in a district and the area’s attractiveness for home-buyers and business. We are in a strategic place to grow and need to capitalize on all our opportunities. Creating a strong school will bring more home-buyers and more home-buyers will bring more business. What we need to create though is a balance between strengthening our school and not overburdening our citizens. We need to streamline our spending, make sure our students are receiving the services they need, remove gaps in our curriculum and maintain our facilities in a way to reduce spending.
What is your favorite book? Why do you like it?
I don’t have a favorite book per se, but I rather enjoy dramas and mysteries. I just recently re-read Dan Brown’s Inferno ahead of the movie release. I enjoy stories that make you think, and are full of twists and turns. There is nothing like a good mystery to stimulate your brain.
Editors Note: I would like to thank Mr. Nicholson for his answers to my questions. I will post the other candidate’s responses in the order I receive them.