2012 Columbia Public School Board Candidates: Paul Cushing

Thursday, March 1, 2012 | 3:56 p.m. CST; updated 12:52 p.m. CDT, Friday, March 16, 2012

This is part of the Missourian's school board election coverage; for complete coverage, click here.

Paul Cushing

Age: 49.

Years in Columbia: 11.

Occupation: IT Coordinator at Miller's Professional Imaging.

Education: Vocational degree in electro-mechanical engineering at Pinellas Technical Education Centers in Clearwater, Fla. He has also taken IT classes at Ozarks Technical Community College in Springfield.

Personal ties to district: No children attending school in the district.

Community involvement: An active member in Mid-Missouri Big Brothers Big Sisters program and Columbia Strength and Conditioning.

Political experience: First time running for public office.

Reason for running: In a somewhat spontaneous effort, Cushing was inspired to run for a school board position because of the debated tax levies and bond issues for the district. "If we raise taxes, at what point do the taxes end?" Cushing asked. Instead of raising taxes, he suggests the district add a surcharge on property development. "We need to re-focus on the center of Columbia and the buildings there," he said. Cushing also wants to create an atmosphere in the district that localizes education to each neighborhood and encourages technical skills as well as traditional academics.

Most important thing to contribute: From his experience with overcrowded school districts from his education in Florida, Cushing seeks to appeal to Columbia parents and residents as an advocate for a small, neighborhood-oriented school system. He said his strong time commitment to the district would help set him apart.

No. 1 challenge facing the district: The "growth issue" and overcrowding in schools. Rampant growth in the area is threatening the ability of the district to effectively educate due to monetary concerns, overcrowding and a lackluster economy," Cushing said in a CMNEA survey posted on his website.

Something Interesting: Cushing grew up in central Florida, where he worked at his father's demolition business and at a Caterpillar Inc. dealership.

Contact information:, website, Facebook, Tweet @unixcorn.

Read more about Cushing in his own words

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Mike Martin March 13, 2012 | 11:37 a.m.

Not impressed with Mr. Cushing. He's spent years publicly pontificating (mostly on the Columbia Tribune) against higher property taxes and bond debt.

Now, after two months on the campaign trail, he's trying to squirm out of that position, bringing to mind flip flop comparisons with John Kerry.

"I really, really wanted to march in there with a no vote myself," he writes today. "You all know what motivated me to run. But the facts are the facts. We have allowed subdivision after subdivision to be built around town and now we have to pay the piper."

This is about the worst thing a School Board candidate could say, especially when the people building those subdivisions are also the people selling over-priced land to the district to build new schools to anchor their subdivisions and pay for infrastructure.

It shows he has no real grasp of the problem of cost shifting from Big Developer to John and Jane Q Citizen, and is merely trying to win the support of the developer-friendly inside group that tries to control local politics.

Mr. Cushing's Trib cohorts don't seem too impressed, either.

"It was easy to keep saying no to the bonds and levies on this board when I didn't have the facts."

Well then, probably should have kept mouth shut.

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