- Mark Fisher Staff Writer
Restaurant owners — well, most of them, anyway — tend to shy away from the political arena, and wouldn’t give a second thought to the possibility of running for office.
Karen Wick-Gagnet, co-founder and co-owner of Coco’s Bistro in Dayton, feels differently.
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Wick-Gagnet has taken out petitions to run for the Dayton Board of Education, in what is shaping up to be a crowded election. We wanted to know why she decided to run, how running a restaurant helped prepare her for such a position, whether she had any trepidation as a restaurant owner about entering the political arena, and how she would balance her responsibilities if elected.
Here’s her response:
“I do indeed plan to move forward with submitting petitions. I am running with a slate that includes Mohamid Al-Hamdani, Paul Bradley and Rev. William Harris.
“This slate represents a diverse background, and brings strong leadership to the table to move this organization forward. I’m confident that should this slate be elected, we will make strong, productive, positive decisions that provide solid governances and practices to sustain, grow and nurture the Dayton Public Schools.”
“I was approached to consider running with this slate. Strategically thinking, election of a slate assures like-minded candidates will work together to make good decisions, and this made sense to me.
“A well-functioning board should not run the schools but assure strong leadership is in place that is operating in accordance to policy and procedure. I believe my involvement with the Dayton community at large, my experience of having two children attend and graduate from DPS, my commitment to Dayton and passion for public education make me an ideal candidate. My business experience and acumen bring additional value to to table.”
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“I believe that my restaurant ownership/operations experience has prepared me for the challenges of this position. Understanding the importance of communication, transparency, delegation, the will and willingness to roll your sleeves up and do the work, applied disciplines in stewardship of funds and emotional intelligence (well being), understanding, compassion and hospitality are essential tools.
“Education on any and all levels — whether we are in a restaurant continually teaching and striving to do and be our best, or in a public school environment — (We have to be mindful) of the critical impact of education to our continued evolution.”
“I’ve not stepped in to any ‘political’ arena before, so I’m not really sure of what may be in store. But, I am sure that I believe that quality public education is not a privilege but a basic human right, and that the key to breaking barriers lies in education.
“I am confident in my ability to juggle both the restaurant and any obligations of this position. I have a tremendous support system with my family at home and my family at Coco’s. I have a great leadership team and have been practicing my whole life.
“Cheers to an exciting election!”