Buffalo, NY (WBEN) - With several high profile candidates running for positions, it seems as if there has never been more interest in the Buffalo School board than right now.
Former Buffalo Mayoral candidates Sergio Rodriguez and Bernie Tolbert have thrown their hat in the ring, so has current School Board President Barbara Seals-Nevergold. All of this attention begs the question, why all the sudden is there so much focus on the school board?
"When you're looking at the most fundamental issue in the City of Buffalo, in terms of what impacts crime and poverty, the education system is what impacts everything in the most fundamental way," said Rodriguez.
Rodriguez says that the school system is what sets the stage for the future of the city. He also says that running for a seat on the school board shows commitment to the city. School board members do not currently receive a salary, instead just a small stipend. Rodriguez says that fact means only people who are truly interested in public service will run.
But what about the tough competition? Rodriguez welcomes it.
"Only about five percent of the voting population even participates. So only five out of 100 people even bother to go out there and cast a vote for School Board member. Having big names like Bernie Tolbert, Barbara Seals-Nevergold, I think hopefully that's what it takes to bring the focus to where it needs to be; in the education system."
Already on the board is former gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino. During his tenure as a high-profile school board member, Paladino has gone as far as calling for the job of Superintendent Pamela Brown. Despite that, Brown says she isn't paying too much attention to the race to get on the board.
"I think the democratic process is good for all of us," Brown said when asked about high-profile candidates for School Board. "I respect that process and I respect the right of those who are eligible to run for office to make the decision about doing that."
Brown added that her focus is not on who is on the School Board, but rather on running the district to the best of her abilities.
Tolbert has previously said that he sees the school board as a microcosm of Washington, with two sides of people firmly entrenched in their positions. Tolbert has been present at several meetings of he School Board since his failed Mayoral bid last September.
Both Tolbert and Rodriguez stressed the importance of the education system in their bids to unseat Mayor Byron Brown.
Rodriguez says that he thinks people are starting to wake up.
"I think it's just people starting to realize that all the problems that we're dealing with in the city of Buffalo stem from the education system."