Candidate questionnaire: Mary M. Cordray

info@islandpacket.comOctober 22, 2012 

Name: Mary M. Cordray

Age: 56

Office: Beaufort County Board of Education, District 8

Number of years living in the area you seek to represent: 8 years

Family: Husband William, two grown stepdaughters, one granddaughter

Education: Bachelor's degree and master's in education from University of South Carolina

Current occupation/employer: Budget director, University of South Carolina Beaufort

Employment, military and volunteer history: Employed with University of South Carolina Columbia from 1977 until 2004; assistant with the kindergarten/first grade music program at the Church of the Cross for the past five years; secretary for the Hilton Head Island Community Action Group

Please list all public offices to which you've been elected, when and where: None

Please list any unsuccessful candidates for public office and when: None

Other prior political and government experience: None

Key endorsements you've received: former S.C. superintendent Barbara Neilsen

Contributions: $550 as of Oct. 23.

Expenditures: $446.03 as of Oct. 23.

Highest contributor: Donna Foster, $250; Dennis and Barbara Nielsen, Patricia and Woodrow Williams, and St. Clair and Ted Craver, $100 each.

Why should people vote for you? What separates you from your opponents?

I care about the children. I am committed to doing my best to allow all of the children of Beaufort County to do their best. I am intelligent and place a high value on education. I am proud of the commitment that Beaufort County makes to education and would like to see outcomes for our students that match that level of commitment. I will bring a fresh set of eyes and questions because my experience has been with higher education rather than K-12 education. I have the skills that allow me to work effectively with diverse groups.

What are the three most important issues you would address if elected? How?

  • Fiscal responsibility/accountability: I will work to ensure that the school district budget is fiscally responsible and focused on achieving the goals and priorities as established by the school board through diligent oversight of the financial-planning and review process. I want our focus to be on channeling resources -- fiscal and human -- toward instruction and the children. I believe that the school board should work to ensure our district is treated fairly in the distribution of state funds.

  • Academic outcomes/accountability: Academic achievement requires the right leadership -- the superintendent and principals. For the board members elected in this election, this will begin with the hiring of the new superintendent. Once the new superintendent is in place, the board must work with the superintendent to ensure that obstacles to the desired success are addressed or removed. Once these obstacles have been addressed then the superintendent must be held accountable. The board must also work to ensure the district can successfully attract and retain outstanding teachers.

  • School choice: I believe that parents should have school choice. In addition to the choices currently available to parents and students, I will work to support other innovative choices for our parents and children that would address student learning outcomes and needs. I think the school board should be responsive to examining the choices parents want made available that are aimed at improving the learning experiences of our children.

  • What other issues do you see as important?

  • I think that safety is another issue whether it be at the bus stop, on the bus, on school property, or at school-sponsored events.

  • Improved communication between the school board and the community. This includes more user-friendly and up-to-date information on the district website.

  • What specific steps will you take to make government more open and accessible to the public?

    I would like to see a certain number of the board meetings scheduled in locations other than the Beaufort County administration complex -- a meeting schedule that includes meetings held at district schools on a rotational schedule.

    Have you ever been convicted of a crime (felony), been disciplined by a professional licensing board or organization or had an ethics violation filed against you?


    Have you ever filed for bankruptcy, been delinquent on your federal, state or local taxes?

    I have never filed for bankruptcy, nor been intentionally delinquent on any taxes. The taxes due in January 2009 for a boat slip were accidentally overlooked, and that was corrected with taxes and penalties paid in August 2009 when the error was discovered.

    Are there any personal details about yourself that voters would be interested in knowing?

    I am a caring and committed individual. I care about the children. I take my responsibilities seriously and will be a dedicated, informed, action-oriented member of the school board. I love learning new things. I enjoy spending time with my grandchild. My husband and I also enjoy boating and the beautiful surroundings of Beaufort County.

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