A corporate trainer who sends his child to a private school could take on a former PTA president for a seat on the Wake County school board.
Peter Hochstaetter, who turns 35 on Wednesday, said he will run for the newly revised District 7 seat on the school board, which includes parts of Garner, Fuquay-Varina, Holly Springs, Apex and Cary. Hochstaetter said he filed paperwork Monday to form his campaign committee. He officially announced his candidacy in a press release Tuesday that promoted his support for neighborhood schools.
“I want to be an advocate for parents to have as many choices as possible as to where and how their children are educated,” Hochstaetter said in an interview Monday. “I’m firmly of the mind that no one will be more of an advocate of your child than you will be.”
Hochstaetter will have competition. According to the Wake County Board of Elections, Gary A. Lewis of Cary filed paperwork on March 24 to form a campaign committee for District 7. Lewis is a past president of the Wake County PTA Council and the group’s current treasurer.
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None of the current school board members live in the new boundaries for District 7.
Lewis fits the typical profile of a school board candidate in being a parent of a current or past student in the school system. In contrast, Hochstaetter has a 10-week old son while his 6-year-old daughter is a first-grader at Lifespring Academy, a Christian school in Clayton. He plans to enroll his daughter this fall at Wake Christian Academy in Raleigh.
“My wife and I felt this school and this situation was the best place for her to be,” Hochstaetter said.
Hochstaetter said that, as his personal choice shows, he wants to support Wake parents in whatever option they choose. That includes attending a school in or outside the district.
“I don’t believe in all of this student reassignment and the board choosing where a child should go,” Hochstaetter said. “I realize there have to be some policies and procedures in place so it doesn’t become a free-for-all. But I want parents to have as much say as possible.”
Hochstaetter has a Raleigh mailing address but lives in an unincorporated area near Wake Tech’s main campus, where his wife is a department chair. He’s a corporate trainer at Siemens Healthcare in Cary.
Hochstaetter said he can relate to the problems that educators face because his wife used to be a high school teacher. He said teachers aren’t paid enough for all that they do.
Hochstaetter said he’s not impressed by the current school board and wants to make sure that taxpayer dollars are efficiently spent. In contrast, Lewis has spoken in favor of school budget requests, including what turned into last year’s record $44.6 million funding boost by the Wake County Board of Commissioners.
Both Hochstaetter and Lewis are registered as Republicans. Officially school board races are non-partisan.
The General Assembly denied that partisan motives were behind the rewrite of the Wake school board lines in 2013. But past voting results indicate that the new lines could create a 5-4 Republican majority with the new District 7 being GOP leaning.
Things could be thrown up in the air if the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals orders that new lines be used in this November’s elections, when all nine school board seats are on the ballot. A hearing is scheduled for May 9.
The filing period doesn’t officially begin until June 13. One byproduct of the elections being moved from October of odd-numbered years to November in even-numbered years is that school board candidates no longer need to win a majority to win. Only a plurality would be needed in November since there are no longer run-off elections when a candidate doesn’t get a majority.
Hochstatetter issued this press release Tuesday:
Southern Wake Father Running for School Board
April 19, 2016 Contact: Hochstaetter.WakeCountySchools@gmail.com
RALEIGH – Southern Wake resident Peter Hochstaetter announced his candidacy for the Wake County School Board on Tuesday, citing his desire to give Wake parents and families a louder voice, to stabilize a messy student assignment system, and to refocus the school board on student achievement.
Hochstaetter, 34, is a proponent of neighborhood schools and restoring power and decision-making authority to parents and local families.
Residing south of Raleigh, Hochstaetter and his wife, Brittany, have two young children –a 6-year-old daughter and a 10-week-old infant son.
“We chose to raise our children in Wake County because it has been one of the best places in the country for families and new opportunities,” Hochstaetter said. “We can’t let a tumultuous school board put that in jeopardy. I want to bring stability and common sense back to the board, foster more input and participation from parents, and give neighborhood communities a stronger voice.”
Hochstaetter works in the private sector as a corporate trainer at Siemens Healthcare and has never run for public office. He has been a Republican precinct captain and volunteered for several local candidates.