By Cole Schnieders, Staff Writer
Joseph Shepard didn’t win a spot on the USD 259 School Board during Tuesday’s election as he had hoped, but he’s not finished fighting for children, he said.
Shepard, Newman’s director of multicultural engagement and campus life, lost the race for USD 259’s at-large school board seat to incumbent Sheril Logan on Tuesday. In his conciliatory speech, Shepard said the election wasn’t a total loss.
"This is not a sad moment. This is a joyous moment," he said. "I don't want any tears here tonight because we know that some of the best leaders in the world lost their first race…You know that I’m resilient and I'm a fighter."
The journey for Shepard and his team began in February of last year. Shepard said they knew they'd have a tough race against Logan, who had already held the voluntary position for eight years.
When polls opened Tuesday, Shepard was behind Logan by less than 700 votes based on advanced votes. As polls closed, the gap widened, but not by much.
"We fought… and we came up short by 2,000 votes," Shepard said. "As you look at our campaign, we have inspired so many young people, so many families, so many educators and support staff… We've done so much for our youth, especially young people of color."
Shepard said he has high hopes for the school board but knows it's up to the community to ensure a quality education for every student.
"Let’s use this as motivation to get back up, to propel forward. We’ve got more races to win in 2020," he said. "So we’ve got to get behind those candidates who are willing to propel our communities forward."
Before the elections next year, Shepard said, there is still much work to be done, both as he continues to lead youth and work at Newman.
"I'm on a plane, tomorrow morning, in a couple hours, to go speak to young people in Kentucky about seizing their space… And I get to go back and put my focus on one, my family, but then, my Newman students who are a huge part of my family…,” he said. “[When] I was out campaigning and knocking on doors, they were always understanding and supportive. I have an affinity and a love in my heart for my Newman students."
PHOTO: Courtesy Photo, Joseph Shepard.