BY DAVID O’NEALAloha. My name is David O’Neal, and I am running in the island-wide special election for the Leeward seat of the Board of Education.

I moved to Hawaii in 1986, after graduating from high school in California. I attended the UH Manoa School of Business as an accounting major, then transferred to UH West Oahu, where I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Health Administration.

I worked many years at HMSA, then managed the operations of a statewide network of dental clinics. In 2000, I started my own internet company and have been self employed ever since.

In 2001, I married Katherine Barcelona, a public school teacher born and raised in Hawaii. In 2002 we were blessed with the birth of twins, Aidan and Sarah. In 2004, our third child Amber was born. Today, Aidan and Amber attend public school at Kalei’opu’u Elementary and Sarah attends Kamehameha Schools.

When my children started Kindergarten at Kalei’opu’u Elementary School, I immediately became involved as a volunteer at the school. I joined the School Community Council that year, and became Chair of the Council the following year. I help organize the annual Read Across America day, and read to the kids myself. It is the most amazing feeling to interact with elementary aged children while reading to them!

I am an active member of my community in Royal Kunia. I attend the monthly Association Board meetings and I am past Chair and a current member of the Government Affairs Committee for our Association. I regularly communicate to a network of my neighbors via email, to update the community on happenings in the area. I am a Board member of the Waipahu Community Foundation, which provides grants to non-profits in Waipahu that are for the benefit of the children of Waipahu. I also volunteer as a Cub Scout Den Leader.

As you can see, volunteering for the benefit of children is a passion of mine, which is why I am running for the Board of Education. While this is the first time I am running for office, I believe my business experience and education has prepared me for the financial aspects of budget review, as well as taught me how to communicate effectively. As a husband of a public school teacher and a parent of public school children, I can relate to our parents and teachers, and know the commitment required to educate our children.

We need to make education our top priority in Hawaii. That means:

* Our elected officials must place a premium on education, to ensure the proper funding is provided and our children are never again subjected to furloughs, or suffer due to politics.   

*The Department of Education must budget wisely and creatively to minimize spending while providing necessary services and programs.

*Principals must be strong leaders, to ensure the continued improvement of test scores and proficiency in real-life skills in the classrooms.

*Teachers must be supported, rather than frustrated by ever-changing mandates.

Our schools must be properly maintained, and new schools must be built as new communities are developed. That means our parents must support their children and support their schools and teach our keiki the value of education.

We all have to work together at all levels of government and in the community, to ensure our future generations are prepared to be productive members of society.

As a member of the Board of Education, I will:

* Work hard to continue the progress that has been made.

*Be accessible to the parents of public school children.

*Be accessible to principals and teachers. I will visit schools and meet with administrators.

* Be an advocate for our keiki. I will be your voice to make sure you are heard.

  I humbly ask for your vote for the Leeward seat on the Board of Education. Mahalo.

David O’Neal is a candidate for Board of Education Leeward special election running concurrently with the general election on Nov. 2. For more information, see: www.davidoneal4boe.com.

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