Webster Parish retired educator Gene Reynolds announced today his intent to run for candidacy in the 2011 election for District 10 State Representative.
Reynolds, a 32-year educational veteran, stated his objective is to build upon the existing foundation of District 10's current projects in the areas of economic development, downtown improvements, environmental enhancements and educational planning.
Since 1977, Reynolds has served our youth as a teacher and a principal at seven different schools throughout the parish during his employment with the Webster Parish School Board, beginning with his first position as a teacher at JL Jones Elementary.
"I started, as most do, as a teacher," said Reynolds. "I worked my way up through the educational system here from teaching for 17 years; and then served as a principal at four different schools."
Following his time in Webster Parish education, Reynolds led efforts in Cameron Parish to rebuild the school system there following Hurricane Rita in 2005.
"Transferring to Cameron was something my wife and I both felt very led to do," he said. "Sometimes the good Lord paves unexpected paths for us, and this was one of them. But it was apparent to us exactly why we were supposed to be there once Rita hit—because we still had our home here and were a stable source of strength to help them rebuild their schools from nothing."
In 2010, Gene and Martha resigned from their employment in Cameron Parish and returned to Webster Parish to be closer to their families. Back in Dubberly, where they live near son Dustin, his wife Jenny, and their two children, Abby and Alex, the Reynoldses enjoy their North Louisiana lifestyle in the piney woods of their home place.
Reynolds, who describes himself as conservative-minded, has resided during the past 40 years in the Webster Parish area in both Heflin and Dubberly, where he now lives with his wife, Martha Nell Moore Reynolds, who also retired from the Webster Parish School System with 34 years of service.
Following his 1974 move from industrial jobs at both AMF Beaird's and General Electric, Reynolds began his higher education at Louisiana Tech University in elementary education, working his way through college at various small jobs. Soon after, he and Martha began their family of two children, Dustin and Cole.
As a child, Reynolds was raised as a member of the Baptist faith by his parents Harlie and Elizabeth Reynolds in Shreveport, where he graduated from Woodlawn High School in 1968. The same year his parents moved to Ringgold, where he met Martha.
"I was not born into privilege," said Reynolds. "I was raised in Cedar Grove in Shreveport before my family moved to Ringgold. Even then we [Gene and his 5 siblings] were raised knowing that anything we wanted to have outside the necessities of life was something we had to work for."
It was this work ethic instilled in him during his early years that Reynolds says is something that typically "makes or breaks" a young person. "With the encouragement of my wife and family, I set my sights on something that I'd never dreamed I could achieve," he said. "But I did — and decided to just keep on going."
Reynolds received his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1977, and while teaching for several years continued going to school for his Masters of Arts in elementary education which he received in 1982; and his Masters Plus 30 degree in administration which he received in 1992.
In 1994 Reynolds was offered and took the position of principal at Sarepta K-12 school. Following his four years there, he became principal at Central Jr. High and then moved to help in the establishment of Lakeside Jr. High and High School.
"I absolutely love working with the development of our youth," he said. "To have the opportunity to help mold their minds and character during such crucial times is very rewarding. I guess maybe I relate and want to teach them all that they absolutely can set their sights on something and go for it—no matter where they come from."
Reynolds describes himself as a strong public school advocate, adding his beliefs are centered on the value of direction and involvement at the local level.
"I believe that the State should allow for more local involvement at the school and district levels in the development of teaching methods. This would ultimately enhance higher level learning skills and allow for the incorporation of arts enrichment," he said. "It's been my experience that students learn and retain more by participating in hands-on and interactive learning than through a one-size-fits-all curriculum. I strongly support efforts made to teach our kids how to think; and now the primary state-wide focus is on test-thinking. I feel we're missing the mark."
While education is an important part of Reynolds' background, it is not the only area where he feels he can serve.
"There are a number of issues that are very important to me," he said. "And I feel they are likely important issues to many people. I want to give my energy to address those issues and help develop solutions that can be healthy to our future here."
Some of those areas, says Reynolds, relate to Dorcheat Bayou and Bodcau, the environmental health of Lake Bistineau, economic development, tourism and our educational system.
"I am an advocate for the development of a multi-faceted District blended of tourism, manufacturing, retirement destinations, municipal enhancements, and a strong I-20 corridor," said Reynolds. "And I will support sensible, sustainable efforts to grow our economy and population; and will work to ensure our District receives its fair share of our State's revenues and tax dollars."
In speaking on the area's lakes and waterways, Reynolds has said, "I believe in biological solutions to tackle our recent environmental issues such as the Giant Salvinia, and would support additional research and implementation of sound methods to restore [Lake Bistineau] as a tourism and recreational destination."
"Dorcheat Bayou, I feel, is one of our most precious resources for many reasons," he said. "I'm an advocate for options to utilize and promote Dorcheat as one of Louisiana's Scenic Byways that are also respectful to land owners, lift burdens of legalities and liabilities, and ensure the environmental health of the land, water and wildlife."
If elected to office, Reynolds says his first objective will be to surround himself with an advisory committee representative of numerous areas of commerce, community and local government in order to ensure he will keep an open mind to multiple perspectives on issues relative to the District and State.
"I believe in pulling in ideas and suggestions from the public," said Reynolds. "Decisions made by our State Representative are critical to the financial, environmental, and educational health of our District; and I believe it's important to continuously check the perspectives of others involved before making such decisions."
"It's a 'we-thing'—not a 'me-thing'," he added. "So I'm anxious to get feedback and input on ways we can further leverage the strength of the State to work for us here in District 10. I'm ready to lead the way."
For more information about Gene Reynolds, his platform and campaign voters may visit www.GoTeamGene.com.