Candidate Interview- Sarah Benischek, Craven Board of Education, District 7

Interview questions were developed by a Vetting Committee of 10 members of the Coastal Carolina Taxpayers Association. All candidates for a particular office were asked the same questions. Interviews were conducted by 3 rotating members of the Vetting Committee. Summaries are the agreed-upon consensus of each 3-member group. Candidates were asked to interview in-person, but phone interviews were offered for candidates living outside Craven County if schedules would not allow travel.
Candidate name, position:  Sarah Benischek, Board of Education, District 7
Interview Date: October 9, 2016
Party Affiliation: Republican
Interviewed: In-Person
Name:  Sarah Benischek
Address:  117 Secretariat Drive, Havelock, NC, 28532
Educational Background:
I was educated in public schools, elementary school, high school, and Craven Community College, where I earned a certificate in Auto CAD.
My experiences include home schooling my both of my children for a total of eight years, and although I do not utilize the public school system as of now, I am still deeply interested in seeing it become an institution I can place my good faith and confidence to do so one day soon.  Life experience has given me many opportunities to exercise my time and talents which I think have strengthened me into the person I am today.  One characteristic of mine in particular would be my determination.  I have plenty of experience using that trait which has helped me to be a successful wife, mother, teacher, business woman, and overall survivor of many of life’s circumstances that have come my way.
Randy Siler, a 6th grade school teacher, asked, “If you look at the School Board as a business, who is your ultimate customer?”
The ultimate customer would be the parents. Although the students are recipients or “customers” of the education that’s provided to them, the parents are ones who chose to put their trust and their child’s welfare in the hands of the school in which they send their child.  Which in large part is governed by the Craven County school board.  It’s a wonder MORE parents don’t involve themselves in matters pertaining to the school board and ultimately the decisions it makes!

Parents either don’t care, are too busy, are unaware, or feel like their involvement won’t make a difference or even their options will be ignored by the school board.  ALL of which are unacceptable and I for one am DETERMINED to bring about positive change when it comes to parental involvement.

Demonstrations of Leadership:

Being a proactive parent has definitely taught me a lot about leadership.  Running a school within my own home has taught me much about educational leadership.  Being the wife of a United States Marine who is currently serving 18.5 years with absolute integrity, courage and professionalism has taught me volumes about leadership. As president, owner and operator of my Craven County small business, I have learned much about leadership.  Volunteering through my local church has taught me much about leadership.  I think John Quincy Adams summed it up well when he said, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a LEADER.”

Memberships and Associations:

I am a proud member of Coastal Carolina Taxpayers Association, National Wildlife Turkey Federation, NRA, USO, American Family Association, and Focus on the Family
Why are you running for this office?
I’m running because I was initially asked to run by a conservative group who all know me and my specific plight involving my children’s education vs. having my own career. I never dreamed in a million years I would ever be a “home schooler.”  However, because I do take education seriously and believe that a child’s education can directly impact the rest of their future, I was willing to forgo my own career aspirations and take matters into my own hands insuring that my children receive a top notch education.  What saddens me are many children who are being robbed of this opportunity through faulty state and federal government educational requirements and “standards.”  The home school curriculum I use is 2 years ahead of the public schools in Craven County. Or is it that Craven County 2 years behind?
What is the organizational structure of your campaign, fund raising capability, etc.?
The citizens that helped organized the Back-to-Basics platform and organization make up my campaign organization. They are about 10 conservative minded citizens who serve as campaign treasurer, strategists, and fund raisers.
Which of the Founding Fathers do you most admire?
Thomas Jefferson.
He was a gifted inventor and a statesman who understood the structure required to form a government “of the people, by the people and for the people.”  He was the principal writer of our Declaration of Independence from a tyrannical government.  He also knew the value of education, and he founded the University of Virginia which is a strong institution today!
Margaret Thatcher once said, “Consensus is a lack of leadership.” Do you agree?
Yes, I do agree that it often can be.
Why or why not?

Anybody can go along with a crowd, but what takes true courage and leadership is standing firm for what is RIGHT despite being uncomfortable.
Which President do you most admire?
George Washington
George Washington was a great general, who served without pay by the way! He had the vision to achieve success, and he genuinely cared about his subordinates making sure they were well housed during that fateful winter at Valley Forge.  He not only personally checked on the well being of his men, but also shared in their severe adversities. He encouraged them and inspired them. He was willing to give his own life for what he knew was right!  That my friends, is a GREAT leader.
Do you believe the Founding Fathers intended the Constitution to be:
a . An evolving document whose meaning changes with time, or
b. A permanent set of rules to limit the power of the federal government?

It’s “b.”  The Constitution is the law of the land and it provides for amendment by the sovereign states in convention or by the people. That’s all the adjustment for change that is needed. It’s designed in such a way as to limit the abuse by an over zealous government which is alive and well today.

Discuss an ethical dilemma you faced. What happened?

An ethical dilemma is voting for a candidate because that individual is the lesser of two evils.
How did you resolve it?

I consider what the single most important issue there is, which for me is LIFE, and vote accordingly.

Where do individual rights come from?
Our rights don’t come from man, but from God.
What do you know about Common Core?
Common Core math is a travesty.  Under common core, cursive writing isn’t being taught, and American history is now more than ever a subject to one’s own interpretation and revision, and the big government social indoctrination is deeply concerning.
What is your position on it and why?
If you want to get rid of Common Core, I will fight for you and many others on the Craven County school board to do so. Common Core really needs to go.
What is your opinion on gun ownership, registration, and gun free zones?

If you are not a felon, or mentally deficient, you have the God given right to self protection including gun ownership. I personally try to avoid gun free zones as much as possible as I do not feel safe!
What does the phrase “Separation of Church and State” mean to you?
That the state shall not decide on a certain religion (or religious belief) or denomination to force on it’s citizens. The state doesn’t have the right to dictate what you should believe!

If elected, what would be your number one priority item during your term in office?

I would like to create an atmosphere of trust on the school board in which teachers will feel respected and will no longer fear the administrators or the board. I would like to help parents have their voices heard and opinions also respected.

The committee which conducted this interview consisted of Hal James and Raynor James.


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