Dayton is poised to elect their first out LGBTQ+ Black woman to public office this November, when lifelong Daytonian, local lawyer, and organizer Chrisondra Goodwine will be one of three named candidates on a ballot for four open seats on the Dayton Public School Board.
“I feel like everything I’ve done over the past year and over most of my life comes down to this,” says Goodwine, who organized Dayton’s first-ever Black Pride event, held in July. “To be in this race as a Black woman, a queer woman, an educated woman – coming from a civil rights family – it’s very exciting.”
Though the race sports a few other candidates—four write-in candidates, including an incumbent, are also running—Goodwine says her passion for education, administrative acumen, and strong community ties make her the right candidate for right now.
“I’m already in the community. People know me as somebody they can come and talk to, and we will find a solution. That’s who I’ll continue to be as a school board member.”
If elected, not only will Goodwine be the first out LGBTQ+ person of color to hold public office in Dayton, she will also be only the second out LGBTQ+ person to sit on the school board.
The Buckeye Flame spoke with the candidate about her historic candidacy and her goals for office.
Why school board now?
I’ve wanted to run for school board since law school, but after I graduated I started working for the city, and an existing charter prevented city employees from running for office. When that charter changed, I decided this is it.
The last two years have been crazy for us in Dayton, with the tornadoes, the shootings, and now the pandemic. It was the best time to get in and move the district forward, as someone who understands education, who understands policy, who understands public administration, and who can actually make those things run a lot better.
What experiences have best prepared you for this role?
Not only did I attend school in the district from second grade through high school, but as a lifetime student, I’ve experience virtually all facets of education. I went to a public college, a private college, a professional school; I have my bachelor’s, my master’s, my juris doctorate, several certifications, and I’m working toward a second mater’s. I’ve worked in public administration. All these experiences have helped get me to a point where not only do I understand public administration, but I understand how to make it do the things we want it to do – for students as well as for staff.
What will your top priorities be if elected?
We need to close the gap in access to technology for our students, which the pandemic really highlighted. We want our students to be competitive, and providing sufficient technological resources is central to that.
Second, I need us to get stronger with our workforce. They are the backbone of the public education system. We need to make sure our workforce is being heard and valued in this system.
Third, parents: Without them, there wouldn’t be any children in the district! I really want to get away from going this is where you need to meet us at, and start working on innovative ways to meet working parents where they’re at. If you have a zoom meeting, for example, the turnout is going to be much larger than if you make people come in person only. Adding more channels to get parents more engaged is definitely a priority.
Tell us about Dayton Black Pride.
The Black Pride movement was meant to bring the LGBTQ+ culture to the other side of the bridge – meaning, the minority side of town where you still don’t really talk about these types of situations and individuals. But we live here too! We should talk about us. We’re your friends and family.
[Dayton Black Pride] was a great turn out, even though it rained. A lot of individuals who are older than me said they’d been trying to do something like this for thirty years. It’s just phenomenal to see it actually happen. Now, we are working toward next year’s event, and we are getting ready to launch a certification program for LGBTQ+-owned businesses as well as minority- and women-owned businesses in the next few months.
You’re set to become the first Black woman and the second out LGBTQ+ person elected to Dayton Public School Board. How does it feel? Why is representation important in local government?
I believe I will be the first LGBTQ+ person of color elected in Dayton, too. It matters so much because everything I’ve done over the past year and over most of my life comes down to this. When you don’t see people like you in places, you think those places aren’t for you. I hope being in this role will help students see they have the capability to do anything, so long as you do the work. 🔥