Candidate Questionnaire: Linda Baker for Three Rivers Community Schools Board of Education

Linda Baker

Editor’s note: Linda Baker is running alongside Ross Daniels and Erin Nowak for three full-term seats on the Three Rivers School Board. Anne Riopel, Jack Coleman, and Nichole Cover are running as write-in candidates for a partial term.

Name: Linda Baker

Age: 73

Address: Three Rivers

Party affiliation: N/A 
Are you an incumbent? Yes

Family (optional): Husband-Terry Baker, Children-Jenny, Debbie, TJ, Beth Baker

Have you previously held public office, or have you served in a public leadership role? If so, what is your experience, and what are some of your accomplishments? 

The BOE is the first elected office I have held. Over the years I have been involved in Lockport Township and St. Joseph County boards and committees, including Election Chairman and worker for over 25 years; Chairman and member of Lockport Township Zoning Board and Board of Appeals for over 15 years; St. Joseph County Planning Commission, Chair and member for 4 years; several other county-level committees; past member of Three Rivers Area Mentoring board, 10 years; currently on the board of St. Joseph County Council for Prevention of Child Abuse/Neglect for 10 years. 

How long have you lived in the area you are seeking to represent? 

I’ve lived here my entire life, and currently reside on land that had been owned by my grandparents.

In your opinion, what are the three most important issues to the area you are seeking to represent and its constituents, and why?

  1. The last 3 years have been challenging for our students and families due to the COVID pandemic, and we must work as a board to support our teachers and staff to help students recover from the disruption that COVID caused. 
  2. Our building project is entering a new phase, and COVID has also affected that so I want to be a representative on the board to see this project through to completion. The board is committed to using the funds voted on by our community in the most cost-effective way to give our students the safety and security they need for effective learning. 
  3. I believe it is important to base our decisions on the vision of our Strategic Plan and give our students the tools they need to succeed after graduation. 

What measures will you pursue to address those issues? 

We will be looking at data from testing during the year to identify successes and those areas that may need some adjustments. Regarding the building project, I agreed that the addition of an Owner’s Agent was a wise decision, that will be cost-effective as the project progresses. Our Strategic Plan which was written with much community input is our guidepost for long-term decisions and helps the board stay focused when considering many questions still to come before us.

Why did you choose to run for the position that you did?

The board is only as strong the people who are part of it. I feel that my knowledge and interests will combine with other board members’ expertise to lead to meaningful discussions and collaboration with the result being good decisions.

What would you say is your leadership style, and how will you utilize its strengths in your position?

Communication was a major part of my job as Victim Advocate for the St. Joseph County Prosecutor’s Office for over 28 years. One cannot be beneficial in a board setting unless they are good communicators: can speak effectively, and also listen and seek to understand. 

How will you know that you’re accurately representing your community?

Our community undoubtedly wants their children to be safe and comfortable in our buildings, and graduate with the skills and knowledge to be successful adults and a benefit to our community and world. That is what our Strategic Plan entails, which is a Community document. When we follow the Strategic Plan, we are investing in our community’s preferred outcomes.

Is there anything else your prospective constituents should know about you, your platform, your views, or your background?

I’ve been very proud to represent our community for the past 4 years, and demonstrated my commitment by attending all but 4 out of over 95 scheduled meetings during my term. Since I am retired, I don’t have as many commitments as other board members and feel it is my duty to give this office my best effort as far as attendance, but also, I do have the time to research things I don’t know enough about, and am constantly striving to be a better board member and asset (I hope) to the Three Rivers Community Schools Board of Education. 

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