West Contra Costa County school board member Tony Thurmond announced this week he will not run for re-election
Thurmond, whose term expires in December, says he is not giving up on Richmond and plans to run at a future date for a full-time public service position.
He has not made any final decision on what public service position he will go after but knows he will seek a job where he can make the most impact. Thurmond has been working with youth and education for 20 years and wants to dedicate his time to public service but says he cannot afford to do it part time.
“It has been a pleasure serving, and I am thankful for the voters for letting me do it,” he said. “I would like to dedicate another 20 to 30 years of my life to public service if I am allowed.”
When he was elected to the school board, he immediately had to cope with the closing of 10 schools in the Richmond and San Pablo area that primarily served kids of color and those of need.
“I resisted the idea, and I reached out to five different cities and held a meeting that resulted in cash. That cash helped us save five schools,” said Thurmond.
He also started the first-ever youth commission in the district. “It is the first time that we have had a youth voice advising the board and helping make decisions from the youth perspective,” he said.
While proud of his accomplishments, he sees many hurdles local schools and students are facing.
“Every district, especially urban districts, has an achievement gap. Every student deserves a quality education because it is key to his or her future,” he said.
Many minorities are not reaching the same levels of academic success as their white counterparts, and part of the reason is the lack of resources that go to schools in urban districts.
Among the local issues that have aroused political passions this year in Richmond are the soda tax and parcel tax. Thurmond strongly supports both taxes and believes they are beneficial to the Richmond community.
“We have used a bond measure tax to rebuild almost every school in our district and a parcel tax to help fund the running of the schools,” he said.
He also says the soda tax will help the 50 percent of Richmond children that are obese. “If it takes a soda tax to curb behavior and make people think about their sugar intake, then I am all for it,” Thurmond said.
But he said he also believes that in order for the soda tax to work effectively, implementation should be delayed until a similar measure is passed statewide in order to ensure that Richmond businesses do not suffer.