By Josh Thall
The Lansing Star
Bryan Beverly, 36, won a seat on the Lansing Board of Education last Tuesday, beating out another newcomer candidate, Thomas Morgan, 34, by a margin of 9,115 votes to Morgan’s 8,778 votes.
Two of the spots on the School Board were won by incumbents Shirley Rodgers and Guillermo Lopez. Beverly was able to secure the final spot on the school board, which was vacated by Charles Ford, who chose not to run for reelection this year.
Beverly said during his campaign his team did a lot of work on social media, which played a large part in his campaign.
“We were very heavy on social media during the campaign,” Beverly said. “There were several posts throughout the campaign about fundraising, getting out to vote and then getting my message and platform out there.”
Tony Baltimore, Beverly’s campaign manager, said people responded in an overwhelmingly positive way on social media, which really helped the campaign at the community level.
Beverly said that fundraising allowed his team to do mailings of informational postcards about his campaign, yard signs and a robocall which was put out the night before the election to remind people to go vote.
Diamond said the cost of Beverly’s election was around $9,000-$10,000, most of which came from family, friends and fundraising.
Baltimore said one of the main ways that money was raised for the campaign was word of mouth and people just wanting to help
“When we took to social media we promoted the fundraisers and people were all on board trying to find out where and how they could donate,” Baltimore said. “We also had friends that he and I both tapped into to help raise the funds – we asked people to be on host committees, people were willing to do fundraisers and at the end of the day, that all adds up.
Beverly’s mother and Campaign Treasurer Anne Diamond said that getting out to meet people and groups in the community was another big thing for Beverly during his campaign.
“He met with a number of community groups to explain his positions, and allow them to get to know him a little better,” Diamond said. “That got him a lot of community support as well as support from people that just know him.”
Baltimore said they wanted to get Beverly to meet with as many community groups as possible, as well as getting him in front of as many community leaders and stakeholders as they could.
“Bryan did go out, and he met with various groups, including, labor, political parties, business groups, community groups neighborhood organizations and fellow educators and teachers,” Baltimore said. “That was really important, it was really the easiest way to get the message out.”
Baltimore said that Beverly also took part in a debate sponsored by the NAACP with other candidates and his campaign team felt like he had a strong presence there.
Beverly said he also did a good amount of door knocking in order to meet people in the community, tell them about his campaign and what he wanted to do for the district as well as to hear their concerns.
Baltimore said, in addition to fundraisers, getting out to meet people from various business groups and people in the community in general, he thinks Beverly’s history in education was key in helping him win the election.
“He comes from a long line of educators, both of his parents were educators – his level of education and seeking higher education for himself, it’s really just in him to have a mind to run for the School Board,” Baltimore said.
Beverly also has a history with the Lansing School District. He and his wife are both graduates of the Lansing School District, and his daughter is currently enrolled there.
When asked what area of Lansing gave him the most support at the polls Beverly said, “It was a city-wide election, so we ran a city-wide campaign.”
Beverly said his campaign team targeted likely and very likely voters in both the actual City of Lansing, as well as some of the areas outside the city lines that are still inside the school district.
Beverly and his team contracted with Practical Political Consulting Inc., which is a political consulting firm that manages the databases of who typically votes in these elections.
Beverly said both the Lansing Superintendent Yvonne Caamal Canul as well as the Board of Education President Peter Spadafore have contacted him since his victory.
“I have gotten emails from both of them, they were both very supportive and said they are looking forward to collaborating with me,” Beverly said. “They are looking forward to me bringing my expertise and community background to the discussion.”
“Some steps are being made in the right direction, but taking some of those strategies district-wide I think is the key to turning the entire district around,” Beverly said.
Beverly hopes he can help the school board take care of an issue he sees as something that should be their top priority; the perception of the district.
“There has been a lot of conversation and a lot of articles written, just this Sunday in the Lansing State Journal as a matter of fact, about perceptions of the district – and unfortunately it is often a negative perception,” Beverly said. “We need to take some steps to reach out to the community, reach out to the community organizations and the businesses community as well, to help change the perception of the district as a whole.”