Religous leaders look to return to Danville school board

Mar. 11—DANVILLE — Three incumbent candidates are running for seats on the Danville District 118 School Board.

Christopher Easton, Thomas Miller and Tyson Parks are seeking election in the April 4 consolidated election.

They are facing three newcomers: Alice Payne, Kim Corley and Tierra Brown.

The Commercial-News sent election questions to the candidates.

Four seats are actually up for election on the Danville District 118 School Board: Easton, Johnnie Carey, Miller and Parks. Carey, who is not running, was appointed in 2021 to fill the remaining two years of former board member Gladys Davis' term. Davis resigned from the board due to personal reasons.

Voters, however, will only be asked to vote for three candidates of the six to serve four-year terms. No one filed for a two-year unexpired term.

When former school board member Lon Henderson resigned in 2021 after winning earlier that year in April, it left his term to fulfill. The board appointed someone to fill Henderson's seat, but that person would have to file and run at the next election for a two-year unexpired term to finish the rest of Henderson's term that still remained, according to Vermilion County election officials.

When candidates filed their petitions, they all filed for full four-year terms and no one marked for the two-year unexpired term, meaning that there will not be a candidate in that spot and D118 still will have a vacancy to fill after the election.

Christopher Easton

Easton, 39, 301 S. Stewart St., is Illinois Department of Corrections Chaplain II (full-time) at the Danville Correctional Center and works part-time as Sidell United Methodist Church senior pastor.

He's served as a school board member since October 2021.

He is married to Melanie and they have two children, Isaiah (Danville High School junior) and Bailee (North Ridge Middle School 8th grader).

Education: Grand Valley High School in Orwell, Ohio; Mount Vernon Nazarene University Bachelor of Arts; and Nazarene Theological Seminary Master of Divinity.

Organizations involved with: Illinois Department of Human Services Office of Firearm Violence Prevention Reimagine; Public Safety Act (RPSA) Local Advisory Council Member (Danville); Illinois Department of Corrections Religious Practice Advisory Board Member.

Easton said about seeking election, "I decided to run for election to be a Board of Education (BOE) member to ensure one vote, the one I would cast, would be a vote dedicated to the bright futures of our students and staff. When school boards are doing their best work they reflect the community's hope and desires for its schools and students. I share life together with many people in our community and believe I can join in the task of reimagining and shaping our community's future. I seek to be on the BOE to be an advocate for our staff and students as they realize their dreams. The Danville and Tilton community is full of beautiful people who have invested in our schools and desire to see our students grow."

Easton said the most important issues concerning the office are: "Oversight of our students' overall education is what I consider to be the most important issue as a BOE member. I have learned a lot about the oversight requirements the BOE has in the short time I have served on the BOE. I will continue to ask questions that ensure our entire community could hit rewind in any BOE meeting and have a glimpse into the weight and impact of the choices made."

Thomas Miller

Miller, 67, 18 E. Woodlawn Ave., is pastor of New Life Church of Faith.

He's been on the school board for the past eight years.

He's been married 48 years and they have three children.

Education: graduate of Danville High School.

Miller said about seeking re-election, "I am running again because I want to continue to serve the district to help our students, staff and all the parents."

He said the most important issues concerning this office are, "the most important concern, I believe, is helping our students to understand the importance of their education; encouraging them anyway I can."

Tyson Parks

Parks, 74, 1609 Glenview Ave., is District Superintendent overseeing 16 churches for the AME Church.

He's served on the school board since 2021.

He is married to Pearly and they have four sons, six grandsons and one great grandson.

Education: Moline High School; Degree: Master of Divinity from Master's International University of Divinity.

Organizations he's involved with: chairperson for the Community Action Board, board member on the MLK committee, serve on the diversity committee of Danville Area Community College, member of the NAACP, and serve on the board for IPA (Illinois People Action).

Parks said, "I am seeking re-election because our superintendent and administrators need to know that the board stands with them in seeing that our students have a safe learning environment, and the parents feel safe in sending their students to our schools."

He said the most important issues regarding being a school board member are: "to attend each board meeting to voice your opinions and concerns regarding issues with the union, with expulsions, and letting our teachers and students know that they are appreciated. Many of our students come from dysfunctional homes and never know that they are loved and appreciated. Many of our laws from the state board do not address, in some cases, what should be done with certain kinds of behavior of students. Addressing the 'elephant' in the room, between white students and African-American students."