Steve Bergstrom, candidate for Wake County Board of Education District 8 | #Education

Name: Steve Bergstrom

Political party: Republican

Age as of Nov. 8, 2022: 44

Campaign website:

Occupation: Airline Captain

Education: Master’s in political science

Have you run for elected office before? Yes. 2020 — Wake County School Board District 8

Please list highlights of your civic involvement:

  • Veteran, U.S. Air Force (2004-2016)

  • Served church mission in Venezuela (1998-2000)

  • Eagle Scout, BSA (1994)

  • Scoutmaster, BSA (2006-2010)

  • Church youth Sunday School teacher

Why do you want to serve on the Wake County Board of Education?

To bring quality education and safe schools back to Wake County.

What are the Wake County Public Schools doing well?

Teachers in Wake are performing admirably! This, despite obstacles being placed in their way by my opponent and this board through poor educational policies.

My opponent has been the D8 representative for 10 years, and teachers have never felt more overwhelmed and undervalued as they do now. That’s why a historic number of teachers have left Wake schools.

I want to reward these heroes by advocating for higher pay, increased resources and policies that allow them to focus on education.

What would be your three top priorities if elected? Choose one, and explain how you would address it.

  1. Quality, unbiased education

  2. Safe schools

  3. Overcoming learning loss

Quality education can’t be accomplished without parental input. A record number of families have left Wake schools this year alone. I want to put an end to parental alienation, and bring back the parent-teacher relationship, which is a teacher’s greatest resource. The parent-teacher relationship is the No. 1 indicator of a child’s educational success.

What should the district do in response to calls to remove books from schools that some say are inappropriate for students?

Any books or materials with erotic or pornographic pictures or language should be removed from WCPSS libraries.

How should schools discuss issues involving discrimination based on race, gender and other factors?

Wake County schools must set a high standard that discrimination based on race, gender or religion will not be tolerated among staff, teachers or students. I strongly believe that all Wake County residents should be treated with respect and dignity.

How would you go about making schools safer in the aftermath of school shootings such as in Uvalde, Texas?

My father was a police officer, and I grew up understanding the importance of safety measures. One of my top platform issues is school safety, and increasing the number of school safety officers. Chair Lindsay Mahaffey was condemned by a member of the General Assembly for refusing to apply for funding to protect Wake elementary kids, and has voted against SROs in the past. I will make protecting our students, staff and teachers a top priority.

Editor’s note: Bergstrom’s response refers to a decision by the Wake County Board of Education last month to apply for state grant funding for a new visitor check-in system, instead of additional school resource officers for elementary schools. The decision was criticized by GOP state Rep. Erin Paré and some school board candidates. In an email after this answer was first published, Mahaffey, the chair of the school board, said Bergstrom’s claim that she had voted against SROs was incorrect. She pointed to her support for a three-year extension of the district’s SRO program that passed the board unanimously in June 2021.

What would you do to try to address student learning loss that was exacerbated by the pandemic?

Often inequity in education stems from families who do, or do not have money for outside tutoring. I support taking the millions in federal COVID money that Wake schools received and directing it toward before- and after-school tutoring. The massive learning loss was caused by school shutdowns, and currently there is no plan and no action to mitigate this generational disaster.

What’s the appropriate level of funding that should be provided to Wake County schools?

Public education gets over 50% of state taxes and 60% of local taxes. When I’m elected, I will work with my fellow board members and the General Assembly to ensure waste is identified, and more money is funneled directly into the classrooms. When teachers and parents have to buy basic school supplies, there is a clear problem with budget management and priorities.

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