In most cases, all voters want to know from candidates is: who they are, what they stand for and what they plan to do. Over the next few weeks, we will share our interviews with several candidates in Seminole County races, answering those basic questions.
Here’s the first one with Gracia M. Miller, candidate for Seminole County School Board, District 2. She is running against incumbent Karen Almond in the August 26 Primary Election. It is a non-partisan, district-wide race. School board members are elected to four-year terms.
Trish Martin (TM): Congratulations, on your candidacy, especially since you are the first African-American in many years with the opportunity to serve on the school board.
Gracia Miller (GM): Thank you and I always have to clarify that. There has been a few African-Americans on the school board. It’s been a long time. Roland Williams was the first. I was still in college when he was appointed. Then he got elected. When he moved away with his job, they (board members) appointed Joe Williams, who was later elected to serve on the board also. [Roland Williams first got elected to the school board in 1980 and Joe Williams got elected in 1992, according to news reports.]
TM: Why you are running?
GM: Having worked so many years in the school system, for me, it’s a continuation of service. It has been a dream of mine, to serve on the school board. God put it in my heart. In education, we can do something about the quality of life…because education is power.
[Miller retired in May 2011 after working as an educator in the school district for 35 years – as a music teacher and certified guidance counselor. She spent her last 18 years at Hamilton Elementary School in Sanford and previously worked at Midway Elementary, east of Sanford.]
TM: What makes you the better candidate?
GM: It’s really about representation. I want to make sure teachers’ voices are heard. There is so much dissatisfaction among teachers, especially of high-tech testing. It started with No Child Left Behind. Things happen differently for everybody. But everybody should be able to reach their highest potential. I had principal say to me, “If you can love them [students] you can teach them.” I am concerned about the poverty and generational poverty we’re seeing in our schools. This is hopelessness. I don’t know if everyone is sensitive to it but we have to stir up the potential. The excitement is not just among people of color. We’ve got just about every type of union worker in the district excited about the campaign. I offer a new voice, a different prospective.
TM: What do you want to do?
GM: I’d like to see more decisions made on the local level. Counties are catering to national level, not local level. We need to get back to authentic teaching. It’s a calling. I’ve had some great experiences as a counselor, working with teachers. They are their students’ school mothers –the kids have to believe that, respect them while in class.
TM: I know you have worked in Seminole County for many years, where are you from originally and tell me about your family.
GM: I was born in Oviedo, went to Florida Technical University (now UCF). My mom said, ‘God had a college built close by so you can go there.’ I’m 59 and married to my husband of 36 years (Larry) and we have a son, a daughter and a daughter-in-law.
TM: Seems like you’ve accomplished a lot in a short period of time. That’s great.
GM: My life has been very full. I’m thankful how God has blessed me.
For more information on Miller and her campaign, visit her website: http://www.graciamullermiller.org.
For more information on the August 26 Primary Election and other Seminole County races, visit the Supervisor of Elections Office webiste: www.voteseminole.org.
© Orlando Community News, 2014