By TERRY GROOVER
A longtime member of the Yukon Police Department is the newest member of the Yukon School Board.
Chris Cunningham, who has been with the YPD for more than 17 years, was selected by the school board during the panel’s meeting Monday.
Cunningham was one of two candidates interviewed behind closed doors for the position that was vacated by Don Rowe after he moved from the zone that he served.
The other candidate was Terri Niles, a mother of five children.
Cunningham, who is a police captain, has two children. One is entering the ninth grade, while the other will be a sophomore when classes start Aug. 15.
The vote to select Cunningham was 3-0. Board member Rex VanMeter did not attend the meeting.
The decision came after board members met with the two candidates privately for more than an hour.
Following the vote, board President Leonard Wells, when asked why Cunningham was chosen, declined to answer, saying that was between him and the board, and the discussions were held in executive session.
Cunningham said he is looking forward to his new role on the school board.
“I was looking for a way to give back to the community. I have been interested in the school board for a while,” he said.
Cunningham said he has lived in Yukon for a number of years, and his children have grown up here. So, this role seems to be a natural fit.
“I was looking for a way to give back to the community in a city that has been really good to me,” he said. “I’ve had a really good experience with Yukon schools.”
Cunningham said he got the idea to seek the seat after reading that Rowe had stepped down, and then he saw a plaque on the wall of the district’s indoor batting facility with the names of the board members.
“I thought ‘what a good way to give back,’” he said.
Cunningham said he visited with Superintendent Dr. Jason Simeroth about the position.
Cunningham said his goal for the position is to find a way to make Yukon not only one of the best school districts in the state, but the best in the state.
“I think it already is one of the best. I really would like to see it be the best school on the western side of Oklahoma. … We’re headed in the right direction,” he said.
Cunningham will serve the remainder of Rowe’s term, which expires in 2023.