In 2019, Farmington Public Schools (FPS) trustees appointed Richard Mukamal to serve out the term of then-trustee, now board president Pam Green, who had been appointed to fill an unexpired term and then won her own six-year seat.
Mukamal hopes to repeat that process on November 3. He’s one of seven candidates for two, 6-year terms on the ballot.
Also seeking longer terms are Cheryl Blau, David Ehrlich, Mable Fox, Steven Goldberg, Janet L. Ravitz Meir, and Frank Raines III. Claudia Heinrich, Kevin J. Hammer and Donald Walker are all running for a single two-year term.
At first, the 26-year resident didn’t think he could serve on the board, as his wife, Linda, is an FPS teacher and “proud dues paying FEA (Farmington Education Association) member”. He learned, however, that her position only requires him to recuse himself from voting on teacher contracts.
The Mukamals have two adult daughters raised in the district, one within the special education department. He has worked as a corporate executive for Fortune 500 companies, business strategy consultant, and a nonprofit executive, having co-founded Crescendo Detroit, an after school program that offers training in music, dance, and more.
Mukamal said he decided to apply for the appointment because he sees the district as “the heart of the community” and felt it needed some improvements. He has a different reason for running now.
“I believe our new superintendent (Dr. Bob Herrera) has a great vision for what the district can be, and I share that vision,” he said. “This time, I’m running to support that.”
Mukamal believes Herrera is bringing about “a complete transformation of the culture of the district,” with a long-term vision and strong management skills. “When you have an organization this large, with so many moving parts, you need somebody who is really extraordinary in their ability to manage the district and move it in the direction it needs to go.”
He’d like to see transformation in how students are taught and assessed, as well as building capacity among staff with systems that ensure responsibilities are aligned with authority, and evaluations based on that, rather than an arbitrary standard.
“We also have a diverse student population, and we need to make sure our students and staff are treated respectfully,” he said.
In the first year of his appointment, Mukamal became a certified school board member through the Michigan Association of School Boards, and received an award of merit from the organization.
“It has really been a privilege for me,” Mukamal said. “I serve, frankly, I think, with some humility. I don’t take this for granted… I decided I wanted to be the best board member I could be, and I hope the community feels confident that I have integrity.”
Mukamal expects to have a Facebook page up soon. In the meantime, he welcomes emails at firstname.lastname@example.org.