Christopher Clevenger Morris | Kent School Board

Chris_Photo.jpg

Candidate Name
Christopher Clevenger-Morris

Office Sought
School Board - Kent City Schools

Why are your running for office, and what previous experience makes you the most qualified candidate for this position?

I'm running because we have an obligation to provide our students with the best possible resources to succeed. That includes ensuring our students have access to performing and fine arts programming, and that our schools are a safe space to learn and grow. It also includes providing a transparent and accessible School Board, so everyone in our community can understand the decisions our Board Members are making, and be a part of the conversation.

I've spent the last ten years working in Northeast Ohio to support progressive candidates, while also working as a liason to local, state and federal elected officials to advocate for at risk populations. I plan to use that experience, and my experience as a Planning Commissioner for the City of Kent, when advocating for the needs of our students, faculty and staff.

If elected, what do you hope to accomplish in this position?

If elected, I hope to foster a school board environment through which members of our community have a voice at the table.

What are three policy initiatives you plan to focus on if elected?

If elected I plan to focus on the following areas:

Transparency - If we want our community to be actively engaged in our school district, we have to keep them informed of district initiatives, how we’re performing, and where their tax dollars are being spent.

Advocacy - As a member of the Board, I’ll utilize my experience in advocacy and government relations to go right to the source. If we want to change the way resources are allocated in Columbus, we have to start working with our state legislators to address the issue.

Safety - We live in an age in which the risk of violence in our schools is at an all-time high. In order to protect our students, we must ensure that our policies and procedures are actively evolving to respond to changing circumstances. To do this we must ensure that our schools have updated safety plans, and safety training for our students, teachers, staff, and administrators. School safety should also include a comprehensive policy to protect our students from bullying and harassment.

What can local governments do to encourage young people to stay in Northeast Ohio?

If local governments want to encourage young people to stay here in Northeast Ohio, they have to begin engaging those individuals in the civic process. By opening positions on our boards and commissions, and encouraging young people to apply and/or volunteer, our local governments can give young people a voice at the table. Individuals who are actively engaged in the civic process are more likely to become involved, and stay involved, in their local communities.

Do you support nondiscrimination policies that protect individuals regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, national origin, age, disability, veterans status, sexual orientation, gender identity and/or expression?

I absolutely support nondiscrimination policies that protect all individuals, regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, national origin, age, disability, veterans status, sexual orientation, gender identity and/or expression.

Should cities in Ohio be required to cooperate with U.S. Department of Immigration & Customs Enforcement? Should cities have the right to become a sanctuary city?

Ohio's cities should be inclusive, compassionate and welcoming. This means working to protect families fleeing from violence and persecution. The U.S. Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement is funded and directed by the executive branch. Our local cities are not, and should never be required to cooperate with ICE. As for becoming a sanctuary city, the decision should be left to our citizens and the representatives they elect.

What are your thoughts on public safety and your plans for crime prevention?

The city of Kent Police Department does a fantastic job when it comes to maintaining public safety and providing the resources necessary to limit and prevent crime in our community. When looking at our local school system, I think it is important to support the Kent Police School Resouce Officer (SRO) program, through which our local police officers build positive relationships with our students, and help to educate them in areas such as law education, legal systems, substance abuse, and safe driving.

Do you support reasonable regulations on firearms in the United States? Please explain.

I absolutely support reasonable regulations on firearms in the United States. In order to guarantee the safety of our community, we must pass legislation that includes comprehensive background checks, extended waiting periods to purchase a firearm, red flag laws that allow for the removal of firearms in risky situations, and policies that ensure that the only officers carrying a firearm in our schools are trained police officers.

Please respond "YES" or "NO" to the following questions/statements regarding the environment:

Do you recognize the existence of climate change?

YES

Do you believe the government has a responsiblity to respond to climate change?

YES

Do you support the use of "Fracking" (hydraulic fracturing) to extract oil or gas?

NO

Do you support the restoration of funding for the EPA at the state and federal level?

YES

Do you support state and federal governments incentivizing the adoption of clean/renewable energy sources over the use of fossil fuels?

YES

The state of Ohio has continually cut funds to local governemnts over the last eight years. How do you plan on operating within the confines of an already reduced local budget, without cutting critical services to tax payers?

Ohio's schools face a funding crisis that our legislature refuses to address. On day one I will commit to working within the confines of the existing funding model of our district, reviewing all available funding sources and weighing the needs of our students, faculty, and staff to develop a balanced school budget.

If additional funds are necessary to maintain critical services I will work with the school board to identify new funding sources, such as state/federal grant funding, bond funding, and if necessary tax levy funding. Before exploring any new funding a thorough review of the existing budget must take place to ensure responsible financial stewardship of tax dollars.

What can be done to create new business and encourage existing business to expand and attract more companies with their tax base and employees?

In order to attract new businesses, and to encourage existing businesses to expand, we must first create and share a compelling story that includes the unique culture that is the Kent community. From there, we must ensure that our community includes a successful learning environment for local students, that housing in the area is affordable and attainable, that funding for new businesses is readily accessible, and that our existing tax and zoning codes are favorable to both new and expanding businesses.

Should your district reduce the cost of services by contracting out or privatizing government services such as street sweeping and garbage collection and professional services such as engineering and information technology services? Why or why not?

Typically, the quality of work contracted out through privatization lacks the same level of care and service as the same services performed in house. When financially possible I would work to avoid this.

What will you do to actively engage young people in local government?

The best way to actively engage young people in local government is to give them a seat at the table, through appointments to our local boards and commissions. We can also increase youth engagement by making meetings of local government more accessible - through increased communication and online access (live steaming, social communications, etc.).

Do you feel that housing in your city is affordable for young people? If not, what will you do to address this issue?

Housing in Kent isn't affordable for most people, let alone young people. If we want to cut down on the rising cost of housing in Kent, and address the continued decline of living conditions, we have to examine existing zoning codes and consider stricter guidelines for rental properties in the city.