BR group seeks ‘capable’ candidates for School Board race

Calling themselves BR 10, a newly formed group of 10 professionals in Baton Rouge announced Tuesday they will be seeking capable, reform-minded people over the next month to run in the upcoming East Baton Rouge School Parish Board elections.

“We’re not targeting any particular districts. We’re not trying to endorse anyone. We think if we get enough good people interested, we’ll have a better result,” said Andy McCandless, an organizer of the group.

McCandless said that BR 10 was launched less than a month ago when he realized School Board elections were coming up on Nov. 4, yet he hadn’t seen much discussion about it.

“Almost anybody that lives here knows that our school system is one of the biggest problems we have in Baton Rouge,” McCandless said.

McCandless, co-owner of Bascom-Hunter, a Baton Rouge company that does engineering services and provide communications equipment to the military, decided he need help spreading the word and also wanted to get together a diverse group of like-minded people.

“Every time I asked somebody they said, ‘That’s a great idea,’ ” he said.

McCandless said BR 10 is fine-tuning informational materials on the basics of how to go about running and serving on the School Board. He said it doesn’t have to be as time-consuming a job as it’s made out to be.

“There’s a lot of people that don’t realize that this is a really great way to give back that will fit within their time constraints,” he said.

McCandless said he first got interested in the School Board a few years when he helped Evelyn Ware-Jackson get elected. He’s also contributed $300 to her as well as donating money to political action committees.

His contributions to PACs included $5,250 in 2011 to a PAC formed by Baton Rouge businessman Lane Grigsby to help change the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. McCandless also contributed $500 in 2008 to a PAC associated with the Baton Rouge Area Chamber.

McCandless and other members of the group insists BR 10 is nonpartisan and independent.

“We’re not connected to anyone, and we have no political motives. None of us have an interest in running,” said Stephanie Bennett, a consultant at Kinetic Marketing in Baton Rouge. “We just have an interest in the school system, and we would like to find qualified and capable candidates.”

BR 10 is not the only group seeking to find parish School Board candidates to run this fall.

The pro-charter school parent group Stand for Children has been out for months trying to find people to run. Grigsby, meanwhile, has said he’s trying to form a coalition, including Stand for Children, to get behind a political platform and find candidates to run.

Qualifying for the Nov. 4 elections is Aug. 20 to 22.

BR 10 does not have a website and is still organizing. Bennett, who can be reached at slebennett@gmail.com, and Josh Howard, an account executive with Covalent Logic in Baton Rouge who can be reached at joshwhoward@gmail.com, are serving as the public contacts for the group.

The other seven members of BR 10 are Charles Becnel, Eric Dexter, Katie Goodson, Terrie Lundy, Kristy McKearn, Monique Scott-Spaulding and Trey Williams.