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Three people filed for CPS board candidacy

Three people have filed to run for seats on the Columbia School Board for the April 4 election.

As of Tuesday, the candidates are Paul Harper, John Potter and Chris Horn.

In the coming election, each candidate will vie for one of the three positions available. Board Member Helen Wade, Board President David Seamon and Board Vice President Chris Horn all have seats opening in the spring. Terms are three years, unpaid.

According to the Columbia Daily Tribune, Wade said she will not run for reelection. As of Tuesday, Seamon hadn’t filed for candidacy.

Harper and Potter are both running for the first time. Horn, an incumbent, first ran in 2020.

Paul Harper

Harper, 52, is an attorney for the Missouri Department of Secondary and Elementary Education, specifically for the Office of Childhood.

He has two daughters. One graduated from Rock Bridge High School in 2020, and his other daughter is currently a senior at Rock Bridge.

Before Harper was an attorney, he was a special education teacher and said that he has devoted most of his life to public service.

“I was the general counsel for Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway for about seven and a half years,” Harper said. “During that time, I actually worked on review and investigations of local governments, including school districts.”

Harper said that he took a look at the election and decided it was time for him to run.

“Education is something that has been important to me,” Harper said. “And I wanted to give something back to my community.”

John Potter

Potter, 42, works in construction.

He has three children who attend Columbia Public Schools, two at Ridgeway Elementary School and one at Jefferson Middle School.

Potter said he originally got interested in district activities when schools were closed due to COVID-19. He said he was surprised kids were kept out of school as long as they were.

“During the school shutdowns, I actually organized a petition drive to reopen the schools at the height of the pandemic,” Potter said. “I knew the negative side effects it was going to have on children.”

Potter said he is running to be a voice for people that believe in the “traditional” way of education, which to him means there would be a lack of social and emotional learning.

Chris Horn

Horn, 38, is a reinsurance manager for SageSure.

He has three children, one of which is a student in Columbia Public Schools.

Horn said he believes in the work Superintendent Brian Yearwood is doing, and trying to do, for the district. He said he wants to support the district’s work because it aligns with what he initially ran for, which included improving teachers’ work conditions and equity and inclusion, according to previous Missourian reporting.

Horn also said it has taken him at least two of his three years on the board to figure out what members were elected to do. He said that at its core, the board is elected to govern, manage the superintendent, manage the budget and have policies.

“I feel like I’m just getting started,” Horn said.

How to file

The filing window for board candidacy opened on Dec. 6 and will close at 5 p.m. on Dec. 27. People interested in running can file at the Aslin Administration Building, located at 1818 West Worley Street.

Filing is by appointment only, according to the Columbia Public Schools website. To schedule an appointment, individuals should contact Noël McDonald, Board of Education secretary. Candidates can pick up the filing packet in advance from McDonald.

The Columbia Missourian is a community news organization managed by professional editors and staffed by Missouri School of Journalism students who do the reporting, design, copy editing, information graphics, photography and multimedia.