Emil Robert Mackey III is running for reelection for a seat on the Juneau School District’s Board of Education. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)

Emil Robert Mackey III is running for reelection for a seat on the Juneau School District’s Board of Education. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)

Get to know a candidate: Emil Mackey

He’s running for reelection to the Juneau School District Board of Education.

Ahead of the Oct. 4 municipal election, the Empire is also partnering with the League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan organization that does not endorse parties nor candidates. Candidate bios and answers questions that the league developed will appear online as well as in editions of the Empire. In cooperation with the Empire, KINY and KTOO, the league will hold a virtual candidate forum at 7 p.m. on Sept.14.

Name: Emil Mackey

Date and place of birth: 1970 – Little Rock, Arkansas

Length of residency in Alaska and Juneau: Alaska since 2006; Juneau Since 2013

Education: Ph.D in Public Policy, University of Arkansas, 2008; M.Ed, Curriculum Design, University of Alaska Fairbanks, 2013; M.P.A., University of Arkansas Little Rock, 1999; B.S.E., Southern Arkansas University, 1996; B.G.S., Arkansas State University, 1995

Occupation: Owner – Country Financial Insurance Office, Juneau Alaska

Family: Dayna Mackey, Wife; Emil Mackey IV, Son

Community service: Chair, United Way of SE Alaska; Past service as a member of the Juneau Board of Equalization and Juneau Airport Board

Other experience: Tech Prep Coordinator, UAS, 2013; Village Access Coordinator, UAF Chukchi, 2008 – 2013; Multiple other university positrons prior to 2008

What ideas do you have for increasing family engagement in students’ education in a positive way?

Education has to be a positive and relevant to be valued by students and parents. We must continue to make schools warm and welcoming to everyone by acknowledging past histories and incorporating culturally relevant lessons for all students. We must also connect life success to education, regardless of occupation.

In terms of school renovations needed, which is your top priority and why?

Marie Drake and Mendenhall River are both in need of major

renovations. But I think we need to reassess all facility use as part of an overall revisioning of the school district and would defer prioritization until after we decide what we want the future of the district to look like.

What can the school board do to protect the safety of our students?

There is a fine line between making kids safe and creating feeling of permanent lockdown. I believe that every school should have a common entrance with a “fishbowl” point of entry to ensure nobody has access to the school during class hours without being “buzzed” in. Perimeter doors should be limited to emergency egress only. All teachers should be able to secure their classrooms in an emergency.

How are Juneau schools preparing students to be informed voters, and what if anything would you change?

Schools must teach students how to appropriately research and evaluate information and to distinguish between credible and incredible sources. Critical reasoned thought is imperative. Students must be critical enough to question presumptions, but reasonable enough to distinguish between fact, fiction, and misinformation and accept reality even when it is uncomfortable. Teaching students how to make these determinations and how to coexist and compromise with others are essential to a healthy democracy.

How can JSD prepare older teens for the challenges of starting work life, getting tertiary education, staying healthy, starting a family, and participating in our community?

A well-rounded curriculum along with internships, apprenticeships, and other career-discovery opportunities are important. I would start these earlier rather than later.

What is the most critical issue currently facing the School Board, and what actions would you take?

Shifting demographics appear to be decreasing our student populations. I believe we need to plan for decreased enrollment and revision the district for that reality. I believe we should also engage the community to determine this vision. We must be more efficient before we can be more effective with our funding.

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