Posted on August 10, 2004

Diversity Key To Naming Of Wiess At Roosevelt

Betty Reid, Arizona Republic, Aug. 6

The appointment of a White man to fill a temporary post on the Roosevelt School District board was made to diversify the panel and hopefully will ease tensions between Black and Hispanic board members, officials said.

William “Wink” Wiess said he is ecstatic to be appointed. The real estate agent and former president of Central Plastic & Rubber Co. Inc., is filling a post vacated by Carlos Avelar. The appointment expires in December.

The 43-year-old South Mountain Village resident was sworn in Friday, He made the rounds at the Roosevelt district administration offices and attended his first governing board meeting Tuesday.

He is well aware of the political struggles on the board, which, which other than him, is composed of Hispanics and African-Americans. Wiess said he hopes to bring “calm” to the board.

“In calming the board down, I hope that I can bring a sense of balance and confidence to the board,” Wiess said. “I hope to redirect the energy of the district to its Number 1 focus: The mission of the Roosevelt School District is to educate children with life skills that make them productive citizens of our community.”

“Calming” the district and its board includes improving perceptions of those outside the district.

Sandra E. Dowling, the Maricopa County school superintendent who appointed Wiess, said the appointment was made with diversity in mind. Although the district has 32 percent Anglo residents, the board did not have Anglo representation.

“He was the one who everybody could buy into,” Dowling said.

Board member Ben Miranda said he will work with the new appointee.

“He is certainly someone who has not been involved in the Black and Brown politics and has potential for a positive influence,” Miranda said. “I just hope he has financial management experience. We need a lot of help in that area.”

The Rev. Oscar Tillman, president of the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, often found himself at many board meetings speaking on behalf of employees or issues that he believed were unfair and created division in the community.

Tillman said relief is needed to end what he describes as “cronyism and political infighting” among the board members that educating students is no longer a mission of the group. He has a church and office in south Phoenix.

“Hopefully, maybe Wiess can look at it from a different point of view. I will support Wiess if he can do that,” Tillman said.

Dowling said she was also impressed with Wiess’ strong business background.

“The budgets were not going to scare him. The learning curve on that he could grasp quickly,” she said.

Wiess has submitted paperwork to be a candidate for a post on the Roosevelt board in the November elections. The Republican has twice unsuccessfully pursued a seat in the Arizona Legislature.