Sam Hershey, an entrepreneur, father, and former high school sports coach, is running for the Wake County Board of Education, he announced on social media Monday

Hershey was asked to run in District 6 by incumbent Christine Kushner, who is stepping down this year, he wrote. 

“It’s time to…let you know I said yes,” Hershey wrote. 

“Unfortunately, some people who might be running for school board seem more interested in partisan politics and tearing people down, rather than working to make Wake Public Schools the best they can be,” he continued. “I will work with integrity and transparency, with inclusiveness, and with an open mind as I listen to the views of others.”

Hershey previously ran for the Raleigh City Council in 2019, losing the District A seat to Patrick Buffkin. He received his bachelor’s degree from NC State University and a master’s in business administration from Queens University in Charlotte. In the past 18 years, Hershey has coached softball and wrestling at various Wake County schools. He currently serves on the board advisory council and PTA for Douglas Elementary School, where his son attends. 

Hershey’s campaign for school board will focus on the district’s current staff shortage, remediating COVID-19 learning loss, and improving teacher pay and school funding, he wrote.

Hershey also plans to address issues of school safety and “annual learning interruptions that happen every year with students.” Some of his specific policy goals include creating better incentives for substitute teachers, adding solar panels to schools, and creating a better system to receive feedback from teachers, students, and parents. 

Hershey is a staunch defender of LGBTQ rights in the face of recent controversies, where conservatives have alleged LGBTQ-inclusive library books and curricula are “age-inappropriate” for children. 

“It makes me angry the way these bullies…go after LGBTQ (people) over a made-up issue,” he says. “It’s divisive and I find it to be particularly dangerous in a time when we deal with unspeakable tragedies not just at schools but everywhere.”

Hershey went on to say that “leaders who claim they are standing up for our students and our teachers should denounce this coded language whenever it’s used. The same goes for fake (critical race theory) claims.”

In a near-simultaneous social media announcement, Kushner announced she would not be seeking re-election in District 6, which covers parts of central and north Raleigh. Kushner, who was first elected in 2011, served two terms as chair of the school board. 

“More than 12 years ago, I began attending Wake County School Board meetings because I felt the school board was not listening to the community. Families, students, educators, and residents wanted inclusive schools that served all children, set apart from political agendas or political theater,” Kushner wrote. “In 2011, I was first elected to the school board…and it has been an honor to advocate for public schools, students, educators, parents, and our community ever since.”

Kushner added that she’s had many inspiring experiences during her time on the school board, including conversations with students, teachers, and principals; storytimes with elementary school children; and “witnessing the dedication” of school support staff.

“I was able to do my work on the board because of your kindness, support, and friendship. I cannot express enough gratitude to you—thank you, thank you for your kindness!” Kushner wrote. “My advocacy for public schools will not end as I rotate off the school board. There is (always) much work to be done, and I will remain focused on ways to improve our schools. See you in the fight!”

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