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KCKCC candidatesCandidates for the Board of Trustees of Kansas City Kansas Community College who attended a forum last week at KCKCC included, left to right, Wendell Maddox, Cathy Breidenthal, Eric Murray (attended for his father, LaVert Murray who could not be there), and J.D. Rios. According to the moderator, candidate Catherine Durham was unable to be there because of an illness in the family and Steve Samuels was teaching at the time of the forum. (Staff photo by Mary Rupert)
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Catherine DurhamCatherine Durham at the Armourdale political forum. (Staff photo)
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LaVert MurrayLaVert Murray at the Armourdale political forum. (Staff photo)
Three incumbents for the Kansas City Kansas Community College Board of Trustees are running as a slate in the election April 2.
Six candidates are running for three positions.
Incumbents Wendell Maddox, Cathy Breidenthal and J.D. Rios stated at a candidate forum last week at KCKCC that they wanted to continue the progress they have made in the past four years.
In that time, the college has added or remodeled some buildings for vocational-technical programs, an auto repair program, and the police academy, and has built a new sports complex.
The challengers are Catherine Durham, a former board member; LaVert Murray, a former board member; and Steven Samuels. Some of the challengers previously brought up issues such as holding down taxes and extending more services to the eastern part of the community.
The challengers were not able to attend the candidate forum last week, and some information they have provided is included here.
Cathy Breidenthal, 67, is running for re-election to the KCKCC Board of Trustees. She is a retired nonprofit director who has lived 33 years in the Westheight neighborhood of Kansas City, Kan. Breidenthal serves on the Salvation Army Advisory Board, the Liberal Arts and Science Advisory Committee of Park University, and the program and political action committees of the Mainstream Coalition.
“I want to continue to be a part of the progress begun four years ago by a board that now functions as a team resulting in more effective board governance,” she said. “I believe this is an essential component of both institutional and student success.”
Her top campaign issue is increasing the visibility of the college in the community by implementing comprehensive marketing strategies. This will increase the number of stakeholders involved in and advocating for the college, she said.
Breidenthal listed her top accomplishments in office as the hiring of a new college president; oversight of major capital improvements including the Technical Education Center, two auto tech sites, new Police Academy facility, sports complex, student housing facility, as well as the community listening project.
Catherine L. Durham
Catherine L. Durham, a former board trustee of Kansas City Kansas Community College from 2003 to 2006, is running for election to the position.
Durham is a substitute teacher with the Kansas City, Kan., Public Schools. A graduate of Sumner High School, she received her associate degree from KCKCC and her bachelor’s degree from Friends University in human resource management. She is a member of the NAACP and the Rebecca Vincson Federation of Women’s Democratic Clubs.
She cited her experience, leadership skills and familiarity with board policies as reasons for running.
She said her top campaign issue is to help build, educate and support the community so that all are represented while keeping tuition cost affordable for all students. She also would like to see diversified programs in place to draw all students that make up the community.
Wendell Maddox, 65, is seeking re-election to the Kansas City Kansas Community College Board of Trustees.
Maddox, president and CEO of the United Way of Wyandotte County, is on the Wyandotte County Health Council, Wyandotte County Library Foundation and Workforce Investment Board Area III.
A graduate of Sumner High School, he has an associate of science degree in social psychology. He served for nearly 20 years as the regional director of the Humane Society of the United States. He is a past executive director of Turner House.
He cited his 40 years of experience in serving on various boards as giving him knowledge of how to be a good board member.
He said he is running to create policies and processes that ensure the success of students. He also wants to promote the good work being done at the college.
Maddox said he would continue to support advancements at KCKCC that are aimed student success while keeping taxes at their current level or below.
LaVert A. Murray
LaVert Murray, retired Unified Government development director, is a candidate for the KCKCC Board of Trustees. He is the principal at Murray and Associates.
A past KCKCC trustee, Murray has an associate degree from KCKCC, a bachelor’s in political science and economics from the University of Kansas and a master’s in urban structure and process from KU.
He stated he was an independent-minded candidate who would give serious consideration to the issues facing the board.
He said he supports total transparency and openness on issues including the college’s business dealings, budget decisions and meeting deliberations. He also is in favor of creating an enriching, welcoming and wholesome environment for faculty, staff and students, making the college more accessible for all within this diverse community, expanding partnerships with the business community, addressing transportation barriers to the campus, and pursuing greater efficiencies to hold the line on taxes.
Murray is a past recipient of the Man of the Year award by the Kansas-Nebraska Conference of the AME Church, is the general coordinator of the Martin Luther King Day celebration in Kansas City, Kan., and is a member of the Donnelly College Board of Trustees.
John “J.D.” Rios
John “J.D.” Rios, 51, is running for re-election to the KCKCC Board of Trustees.
Rios, principal of Silver City Elementary School, has a bachelor’s degree with a major in K-12 education from Emporia State, and a master’s in public school administration from UMKC. He is a member of the United Way of Wyandotte County, El Centro, and NAACP executive board.
Rios, a lifelong resident, cited his 30 years of experience in education. ” I want to promote cooperation Pre-K through 16. Education is Wyandotte County's key to economic sustainability.”
He stated he would like to continue the progress the college has experienced on student academic success, community engagement, facility upgrades and educational partnerships.
“I believe that it is not enough to be good when the goal is to be great,” he said. “Our community deserves the best, nothing less. Other may settle for less, I will not.”
Steven M. Samuels
Steven Samuels, 66, is a candidate for KCKCC Board of Trustees.
Samuels is an adjunct instructor at Park University, a tutor with the Park University Academic Support Center and an instructor at Wright Career College.
He holds an associate degree from Donnelly College, a bachelor’s in education from the University of Kansas and a master’s in education from KU.
“I worked for over 20 years as a volunteer in youth programs and coached hundreds of hours to help young people look to the future,” Samuels stated. “Excellence in any community begins with teaching and learning, and on the community college level, that begins with a strong board.”
“I want to help build the communities, encourage the work and enable community members to strengthen their communication skills and gain a broader perspective of the events and institutions shaping our city and county,” he said.