Antioch School Board appoints former charter school board member to fill vacancy

Alonzo Terry answers questions in round three during Wednesday night's Antioch School Board meeting, while the two other remaining candidates, Candy Amigo and Gary Hack listen.

Alonzo Terry answers questions of the board members in round three during Wednesday night’s Antioch School Board meeting, while the two other remaining candidates, Candy Amigo and Gary Hack listen.

By Allen Payton

Following three rounds of questions, and the narrowing of the field from six of the candidates who showed up at the meeting, Wednesday night, down to two, the Antioch School Board voted unanimously to appoint Alonzo Terry to the board. He will fill the vacancy created by the resignation of long-time Board Member Claire Smith.

New Antioch School Board provisional member, Alonzo Terry.

New Antioch School Board provisional member, Alonzo Terry.

The appointment is provisional and Terry can’t take his seat until at least 30 days have passed. That is expected to occur at the next regular board meeting on June 8th.

Terry served as a member of the Board of Trustees for Synergy Education Project, a state approved, public charter school in Pittsburg with former County School Board Member Cynthia Ruehlig, the wife of Antioch School Board Member Walter Ruehlig.

Prior to that Terry worked for 19 years with the Contra Costa Sheriff’s Office in training, crime prevention and custody alternative, and as Athletic Director for the East County Boys and Girls Club. He’s owned his own businesses and works as a Senior Investigator for Excalibur Investigations and has worked as a substitute teacher in the past. Terry is also the father of two grown sons.

“I’m single and free and happy and I have all the time to give to your children,” he said in his closing statement to the Board.

During his opening statement, Terry said he was born and raised in Chicago until age 18.

“I came from a rough background,” he shared. “There were 10 children in our family. I learned from my coach and my teachers.”

He wanted to be a judge but couldn’t pass the bar, Terry told the Board. Then he came to California and went to work with the Sheriff’s Office

“I have my own business, so my time is my own,” he added. “I’m here to help.”

Later he stated “I have the time. I have the energy. I have the knowledge.”

In an interview prior to the board meeting, Terry said he supported Walter Ruehlig when he ran for school board in 2014. He also said that he supported transparency and either televising the school board meetings, or at least live streaming them on the internet. When asked if any of the board members had recruited  him or encouraged him to apply for the vacant seat, he said “No.”

Asked if he would run for election this fall, Terry wouldn’t commit, saying “We have to work as a team. Our whole goal is the children. If that’s the case, then I’ll run.”

During the questioning, Terry said his top three priorities are transparency and communication, tools and materials for students and teachers, and training.

His response to the question “What’s the difference between public, private and charter schools” Terry offered a unique response.

“There’s no difference,” he stated. “They’re schools. I hate separating things.”

Following the first round of questions, Terry received all four votes from the board members, both Candy Amigo and Joy Motts received three. Gary Hack, Julie Young and Ed Daviess each received two votes. A run-off vote was taken by the board and Hack received three votes in order to move forward to the next round, eliminating Young and Daviess. George Rehm did not show up to the meeting.

After the second round of questions, Amigo received four votes, while Hack and Terry each received three votes, eliminating Motts. Then following the third round of questions by the Board, Ruehlig moved and Trustee Fernando Navarro seconded the motion to move forward Terry and Amigo.

The final two candidates each gave their closing statements, with Amigo speaking first and becoming emotional.

“I’m doing this because I care,” said the mother of four daughters who have all attended or are attending Antioch public schools. “I don’t know why I’m getting emotional, right now. I love this community. I love this district. I’m so passionate about things. I just want to make Antioch this great community and district that I know that we are.”

Terry asked “You want me to follow that?” to laughter from the board and audience.

Following his closing statement, Amigo’s sister, Celestina Perez who works for the district and didn’t know her sister had applied for the vacant seat, spoke during public comments.

“She was raised by a mom where was very involved in the school district, as well,” Perez stated. “She has created four beautiful daughters who have contributed to this community, already. She is a very passionate person. She will give you her all.”

The board members then shared their thoughts before the vote.

“I want to appreciate everyone who applied,” said Board Member Debra Vinson.

“I’m always a big fan of the average citizen not just griping under their breath,” Navarro stated. “The fact that you are here, this is what our country was built on.”

Then Navarro moved and Ruehlig seconded a motion to appoint Terry to the vacant board seat, and it passed on a 4-0 vote.



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