A civil servant: in and out of uniform

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Mackenzie Richardson
  • 92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
Election Day is recognized in the United States as a day to exercise a civil right that many people throughout the world still have yet to possess. It's a day that is too often taken for granted, and one that all citizens who possess the right to vote should appreciate. For Staff Sgt. Jerrall Haynes, 92nd Maintenance Squadron periodic isochronal crew chief, Election Day 2015 was a day he is unlikely to forget.

Haynes defeated his opponent, Rocky Treppiedi, for a position on the Spokane School Board, school district 81, in the Nov. 3 election by more than 1,000 votes. Treppiedi, an attorney, has served on the school board since 1996. The Spokane School Board serves Spokane Public Schools, the largest school district in eastern Washington and the second largest district in the state. SPS serves approximately 29,000 students on a daily basis within its elementary schools, middle schools and high schools.

"Someone suggested I run for public office, and at first I wasn't interested," said Haynes. "I began looking through the positions that were available and Spokane School Board member jumped off the page instantly. Running for this position was a way I'd be able to give back to the majority of the children in Spokane."

Treppiedi led Haynes by less than one percent, or roughly 400 votes, after the first count on election night. However, as more votes were counted, Haynes moved ahead, first taking a 400-vote lead, and then finally a more than 1,000-vote lead by Nov 9.

Growing up, Haynes was very involved in his community. He participated in sports, volunteered regularly and participated in numerous mentorship programs. During his childhood, volunteerism was huge in his community and those volunteers played a major role in his life, said Haynes.

Haynes enlisted in the Air Force in 2010 and continues to strive for community involvement and excellence in everything he does. He works mid-shift as an ISO crew chief typically coming in at 11 p.m. and leaving at 8 a.m. Despite his night schedule, Haynes takes full advantage of his days. He is a freshman football coach at East Valley High School; a public school located in Spokane Valley, Wash. He is also an executive committee member, secretary and economic development member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People chapter located in Spokane. He's also involved with various organizations on base. Prior to the election, he also mentored four children in the Spokane area.

Before joining the Air Force, Haynes was unsure of his true passion. Being in the military helped Haynes decide what he wanted to spend his life doing.

"We serve our country, we serve our nation's citizens and that is something I want to continue to do," commented Haynes. "That is something I want to continue doing, but in a different capacity long term."

Haynes looks at himself as a civil servant, both in uniform and out of uniform. He says his military experience working and interacting with people from different backgrounds and different experiences helped him during campaigning. An elected official's job is to take care of a large, diverse community and be able to relate to them, added Haynes. Haynes attributes his election success to his supportive co-workers and leadership.

"We support [Haynes] 100 percent," said Master Sgt. Simon Fancher, 92nd MXS periodic inspection section chief. "We encouraged him to get involved, and this is probably one of the best ways he can do that. Haynes serving on the school board not only impacts the community, it impacts the youth. The decisions that he is going to make with his experiences and his intellect will prove invaluable for the area of Spokane and Fairchild."

Haynes will serve a six-year term on the board and plans to focus on numerous topics. These topics include improving relations with the community, uniting the community's parents and teachers and bringing diverse opinions and ideas to the decision-making process.

"I want to make sure we don't leave any student behind whether the student is struggling or exceeding expectations," said Haynes. "We need to challenge advanced students and continue to push struggling students."

Following the teacher strike across the state of Washington earlier this year, Haynes also wants to ensure teachers have their opinions and ideas heard prior to the school board making final decisions. Allowing teachers to express their concerns and praises of day-to-day school operations is important for gauging the climate within Spokane Public Schools.

"At the end of the day, they're the ones in the classrooms with the students," said Haynes. "They're the ones we entrust with the education of our country's future leaders."

Editor's note: DoDD 1344.10 limits enlisted military members to holding "nonpartisan civil office as a notary public or member of a school board, neighborhood planning commission, or similar local agency, provided that the office is held in a non-military capacity and there is no interference with the performance of military duties." Contact your legal office before becoming involved in political activities. More information about military member's political engagement and election year guidance can be found in this DOD presentation here.

The Spokesman-Review contributed to this article.