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Cornelius News

More representation on CMS bodes well for Cornelius


By Dave Vieser. Jennifer De La Jara’s victory in the CMS school board race augurs well for North Meck. The Davidson resident, who campaigned at Town Hall during Early Voting, placed second among 13 candidates for three at-large school board seats on the November ballot.

De La Jara lived in Charlotte for 16 years prior to moving to Davidson a year ago.

“I’m excited to have another board member who lives and raises her family in North Meck,” said Rhonda Cheek, a former Cornelius resident who represents CMS District One in the northern suburbs.


“She has worked hard to engage the entire county. She knows our area and is going to be a great advocate for us,” said Cheek, formerly Rhonda Lennon. The Davidson resident’s term expires in 2021 and, as of the moment, she plans to retire from public service.

Cornelius Mayor Woody Washam, who was just re-elected, concurred with Cheek’s take on the race.

“It’s a win for Jennifer and North Mecklenburg as well.  As a resident of Davidson, she does understand our local challenges. Cornelius’ relationship and support for our schools with the CMS Board has already improved greatly. Jennifer will help us take what has already begun to the next level,” he said

Washam was referring to the recent unanimous decision by the school board which put Cornelius on the list of municipalities with prioritization for capital project spending created last year by the Board of Education’s Municipal Concerns Act.

The controversial measure was seen as a slap in the face at the four towns—Cornelius, Huntersville, Matthews and Mint Hill— that were included in a new 2018 state law permitting them to open or sponsor charter schools.

The Municipal Concerns Act would have cut Cornelius and Huntersville out of school construction during the next 15 years.

After studying the issue, Washam helped mend fences with CMS, helping Cornelius get “out of the penalty box” and back on the capital prioritization list. Davidson was never involved since they were not included in the state bill.

For her part, the 45-year-old De La Jara is ecstatic about her victory. “I am very pleased. I worked very hard for over seven months to reach constituents all across the county,” she said.

She has experience working in various schools across the county, but she says her presence in North Meck will make her a better at-large school board member.

De La Jara is director of education at International House in Charlotte, where she oversees all aspects of their adult education initiatives as well as family literacy partnerships with CMS.

Even Huntersville Mayor John Anarella, who has had his differences with CMS, seemed pleased with her election.

“I found her to be very approachable during the campaign and willing to listen to what has transpired with CMS and the Northern suburbs during the past 20 years. I think she will be a refreshing addition to the CMS Board,” Aneralla said.

De La Jara employed a hands-on approach during the campaign, reaching out to educators, stakeholders, and elected officials in the three North Meck communities to gain a deeper understanding of their concerns and desires for CMS.

“I really think the work I have done in building relationships will serve me and CMS well as we continue collaborative efforts with the municipalities for the benefit of the children,” she said.