By Michelle Wagner | Outer Banks Voice on October 18, 2022
Unaffiliated candidate Marie Russell and Republican candidate Matt Brauer are vying for the District 3 seat on the Dare County Board of Education in the Nov. 8 election. The seat is being vacated by longtime Board Member Margaret Lawler, the lone Democrat on the seven-member board.
The District 3 slot is one of three seats that will be filled by newly elected members when their terms begin in December, with all three incumbents choosing not to run again. Once non-partisan, Dare County Board of Education campaigns are now partisan races as a result of 2017 legislation introduced by then Republican State Representative Beverly Boswell, a former Dare County Commissioner. Neither Russell nor Brauer has run for public office before.
Russell, 46, is a Kitty Hawk mother of three children who currently attend Dare County Schools. She is a digital media marketing director and travel agent as well as a substitute teacher in Dare County Schools. A resident of Dare County for 20 years, she has been a board member for OBX Children at Play and a former PTO President at First Flight Middle School.
Brauer, 53, also of Kitty Hawk and a father of four children currently in Dare County Schools, has more than 15 years of management experience in large construction firms and moved to Dare County in 2013 when he purchased Beach Painting Contractors and Beach Construction.
With children in the Dare schools, both Brauer and Russell have emphasized the importance of electing board members who are school parents. Both also agree that current teacher pay and supplements are insufficient, however, Russell’s primary focus during the campaign has been on supporting teachers and Brauer’s priority has been on recovering from the COVID-19 learning loss and improving lagging test scores.
The two candidates took different routes to the general election contest. Brauer had no Republican opposition and no Democrat opted to run. As an unaffiliated candidate, Russell was required to get 1,215 signatures in order to be placed on the ballot.
Russell outlines her priorities as providing more teacher support and pay, retaining and recruiting teachers and working with the new superintendent.
She also stressed that teachers need a voice, as well as more support and that helping teachers as well as retaining and recruiting teachers was a major priority. “Being a substitute and being in the schools, I can see how a lot of times teachers are just trying to get through the day,” she said, adding that teachers don’t have enough time for planning.
“Teachers are not paid enough for what they are worth,” Russell told the Voice in a recent interview. As for providing teacher supplements at the local level, she added, “we need more, just straight up and down, we need more.” She added that working with the new superintendent and keeping lines of communication open between them and parents and teachers was also a priority. “That’s what parents want,” she said.
In his interview with the Voice, Brauer focused on achievement and the impact of the pandemic. “EOG [End-Of-Grade] and EOC [End-of-Course] grades, they’ve come up, but they are still low from the shutdown,” he said, adding that lagging scores need to be addressed. “I think it’s going to take a fair amount of teamwork and identifying the kids who have fallen behind.”
He also identified teacher pay and housing as an important issue, noting that the Dare County Board of Commissioners can do better when it comes to supplements for teachers. Supplements in Dare County “are about the same as they are in Rocky Mount, where you buy a house for $150,000, whereas here, the average house cost is somewhere like $390,000. So I think we could do a little better,” he said.
When asked why people should vote for him, Brauer said that “I do have the business experience…experience managing large budgets.” He also noted that like his opponent, having a board member with children in the system is important. “We have some skin in the game and we’re a little bit closer to the ground level, we interact with the schools every day.”
When asked why she’s the better choice, Russell stated that “I have much more experience being involved in the school community. I have been on several other boards and was one of the founding board members of the Outer Banks Children’s Museum and I’ve always been on the PTO.”
SEE ALSO: Payne and Fearns vie for District 2 seat on Dare Board of Education
Initially, I was going to vote Mrs. Russell out of duty to Country and God to never vote republican, for anything, period. After reading the article, She sounds more than qualified. Good luck Marie!
Mark Jurkowitz | Outer Banks Voice
Just a note to readers. Whoever Toe Jauber is, he is not connected in any way to Dare County Board of Education Member Joe Tauber.
I attrended the meeting where they both spoke… Both are worthy candidates…So…who will I vote for?. It is Marie. Here’s why…She will reduce the average age of board members… Don’t laugh… We need new younger blood…… We need a mother’s perspective…We need a board member who will lead the school district to be better..
Sorry Toe, Marie is a democrat trying to win an election by running unaffiliated. She was for masking kids, closing schools, and vaccinating kids. This is exactly why Lawler was going to get voted out but she decided to retire.(2 years too late) She should have gone to the board meetings and fought for these kids. But Marie didn’t, because you agreed with everything the board did. Which we all know now, was wrong. Let’s see how hard OBV pushes this democratic bc we all saw how you pushed covid, masking kids, public shaming of Susan Bothwell, and vaccinating kids. If Marie won’t publicly apologize for what they did to these kids, will OBV finally make a public apology for being wrong about covid? We’ll wait…..
OBV wrong about covid? What in the name of Bert, Ernie and Oscar are you talking about?
You must live in one of those news bubbles where elections are stolen, climates are stable and every registered Democrat should also be a registered sex offender.
Covid is real, over a million Americans have died from it. Vaccines do not have microchips but that previous number would have been lower had people not been scared to take the jab. Masks do reduce the risk of transmission and the schools followed fairly standard public policy and recommendations in dealing with the covid problem.
What isn’t in doubt is that student’s test scores and learning generally suffered while everyone was trying to figure the best way forward during covid. What I have missed hearing candidates of any stripe talk about is how they are going to make up some of that lost ground. But I didn’t get a chance to see the entire forum so maybe it was addressed.
Forget political parties for once! Marie Russell has actually substituted IN the schools, volunteered IN the schools, and has children IN the schools. As a retired teacher, you have to be IN the schools constantly in order to best serve our children. Schools are not a business cooperation and shouldn’t measured by test scores and more test scores! The School Board needs a voice for the teachers, staff, and most importantly for our children by someone who is there firsthand and understands the daily issues!
Mrs Russel is a liberal that is to ashamed to affiliate… there’s a reason they claim a party. She immediately talks about the teachers voice and note not ONE TIME has she addressed the fact that many many parents don’t have a voice in their own children’s education, especially in liberal places.. yeah she’s a big fat NOPE. Liberals acting like wolves in sheep’s clothing and now they’re all whining when they get called out. Luckily we live in NC and my tax dollars follow my child since we have school choice and I would have ZERO problems taking my bucks right down the street to a Christian school, so keep it up and you’ll have no jobs…
Trying to stay out of it
Not sure why my comments are being deleted? So much for staying on topic and relevant.
I agree that we need someone with kids in the schools. Fresh and ground-level perspective. We need level headed candidates.
I will not be voting for Marie Russell. She needs to look after her own house first.
I will not vote for a candidate that advocated for school closures, mask mandates and vaccine promotion.
Concerned Retired Teacher
Go to YouTube and watch the past 2 years of DCS Board of Education meetings. You will find that two candidates running for the Board are aligned with the ANTI public school organization called “Dare to Share”. It’s on video and it’s public information.
The kids are all right… Listening to people talk about the education system reminds me of a couple in divorce using their children caught in the middle of their argument… All I know is for years we had one of the finest school systems with innovative programs then came culture war and a very poor choice to make board of education positions declare a party…
There is a long list of good educators who lost their bids to sit on the board to candidates whose résumé merrily needed to sayChristian/conservative…
The kids are all right
the kids don’t care
bring back the educators who spent their life dedicated to teaching
Marie Russell cares about our schools, our teachers, and our children.
Why does being unaffiliated with a political party count against someone?
How does being affiliated with a political party equate to one’s ability to serve on a school board?
Oh, wait, it does not.
She got my vote today.