I asked each of the candidates (that I could find online) 3 questions. Here is the response from Rick Starbard. To see more on this series, please visit the Lynn, MA School Committee 2011 Series.
1. Tell us a little about yourself. Where did you grow up? Where did you go to school? What on your resume or in your life experience makes you qualified for this office?
I am a lifelong Lynn resident, attended Lynn schools and graduated from Lynn Tech’s Auto Body program in 1981. During my senior year I began working in an area auto body shop through the school’s co-op program. 2 years after graduating high school, I was working in a small body shop in Revere and had the opportunity to purchase the business and with some borrowed money, Rick’s Auto Body was born. In the 28 years since, what is now Rick’s Auto Collision and Service has grown from a small one person body shop to a 12 person, state of the art collision and automotive service center. During this time I have become heavily involved in my industry and I am currently the President of the Alliance of Automotive Service Providers of Mass, (AASP-MA) the largest automotive trade association in the state as well as President of AASP-National, one of the largest national automotive trade associations in the country. I am also involved in many local and national automotive industry committees and initiatives. I have been married for the past 25 years to my wonderful wife Lois, another lifelong Lynner and Sisson School paraprofessional. Together, we are the proud parents of two amazing daughters. My oldest, Jessica, is a 2009 Lynn English graduate currently attending Northeastern University and my daughter, Stephanie, is a junior at Lynn English, currently evaluating her college choices. Both of my girls received not only an excellent academic education through the Lynn Public School system, but they also received an education in diversity that many of their peers in area communities do not receive.
2. Why did you choose to run for School Committee?
As I began my business, I always stayed close to Lynn Tech. I began hiring students through the co-op program, served on the school’s advisory board and served on LVTI’s first alumni association’s board of directors, a position that I have held since 1992. For many years, then LVTI Director, Al Maligrifa had encouraged me to come back to the school to teach. In 1996 I decided that because I had a great business partner and staff, I could afford to step away from the full-time operations of my business and I began teaching. I taught at Tech from 1996 through 2009. The time that I spent teaching at Tech were some of the most enjoyable years of my life. I had the opportunity to work with some of the hardest working, most dedicated professionals in the city. I also had the opportunity to not only teach, but learn from hundreds of Lynn students. In this time I learned how special our kids are and wouldn’t have traded them for anything. I have found so many of these kids to be some of the most fun, open, honest and accepting people that I have encountered. I still maintain many friendships with many of my former students. In early 2009, my business had gone through a major expansion that required my full time involvement and I had made the decision that I needed to leave my teaching position.
After my decision to leave teaching had been made, I thought about what I could do to continue to give back to the students of Lynn. I knew that I would stay involved with LVTI, but I began to look at the makeup of the school committee as it was a time that some decisions were being made that I didn’t particularly agree with. I noticed that there was no one on the school committee that had a child in the Lynn school system, there was no one with vocational technical education experience, there was no one with immediate experience working with Lynn students and no one had business experience. I felt that because of these voids some decisions were being made that didn’t necessarily reflect the needs of many of our kids. These were all voids that I felt I had the ability to fill, so I decided to run for office. Because I was a political unknown, running against all well known incumbents with strong political ties, I knew that this would be quite a challenge. With the support of my family, friends and many of my colleagues and former students that believed in me, we ran a strong community based campaign and I won a seat on the school committee in the 2009 election.
3. What do you see that is in most need of change? How will you change it?
Since being elected, I have had the opportunity to experience the Lynn school system at every level,
not only from my LVTI or Lynn parent perspective. I have done my best to participate in as many school related and city events as possible and while there is no question that we face many challenges, I think that we have so many talented and dedicated people both within LPS and in the community that together we can overcome the hurdles in front of us. While it is easy to blame all of our problems on money or the socio-economic conditions that exist in Lynn, we cannot wait for the government to throw money at our problems because for one, there really isn’t any and two, it isn’t always effective. We as a community need to throw people at our problems. We are seeing the results of this within many groups that exist in Lynn. We need to bring that involvement and spirit into our schools. I believe that when we allow people to feel that they are a welcome part of our solutions, not only do we build a stronger community, but money will follow. As simple as this may sound, what is needed most in the Lynn school system is open communication and respectful cooperation. I have found that we have so many valuable tools and programs available to our kids, but in so many cases there is such a disconnect in communication that leads to misunderstandings, stress and frustration among staff and many parents throughout the city. While it so easy to say that if only we had more money we could do this or that, the fact is if we can’t communicate effectively and collaboratively, we will not be successful no matter how much money we have. I have, as have many others, been working with administration, staff, parents and community groups to work towards changing the culture of communication that exists in the Lynn school department.
I love the city of Lynn and I owe the Lynn Public School system for everything that I have. Not only did Lynn Tech teach me a trade, but made sure that I had a job when I graduated. Lynn Public schools has prepared my children for what awaits them in their future and my wife and I couldn’t be more proud of the young women that they have become. I have loved having the privilege to represent the citizens of Lynn on the Lynn School Committee over the past 16 months. I hope that the people of Lynn feel that I have done a job deserving of my being re-elected this fall.
If you have any questions, please feel free to call me @ 781-599-7999, email me email@example.com or find me on Facebook @ www.facebook.com/lynnschools.
For more on Lynn, Massachusetts School Committee 2011 from downtownlynn.com, check out our series on this year's candidates.