Friday, April 12, 2024

Update: Controversial LISD board candidate withdraws from race

Update: Jake Preda withdrew from the race for LISD Board Place 6 on Thursday, according to the Lewisville ISD website. He submitted the certificate of withdrawal just hours after he filed an amendment to his appointment of a campaign treasurer, removing his neighbor from the position and appointing himself to it. Preda said he withdrew because another candidate who shares his “values of duty and commitment to family values” is “far more qualified,” and “it would be a distraction for me to have stayed in” the race.

Original story published Wednesday: A candidate for the Lewisville ISD Board of Trustees understands that some families and voters have questions about his 2021 arrest for threatening an elementary school, and he hopes to quell some of their concerns by telling his side of the story and his anti-communist campaign platform.

The local election filing period ended on Friday, and three candidates filed to run for Place 6 on the Lewisville ISD Board of Trustees: Mindy Bumgarner, Michelle Alkhatib and Goran “Jake” Preda. Some LISD officials and families didn’t recognize Preda’s name, so they searched it on Google and found news stories about Preda allegedly threatening to bring a gun to an elementary school in New York.

In April 2021, Preda was lived outside New York City with his family, and one day while he was at work, he learned that his then-6-year-old son was injured at school. It turned out the boy only needed a few stitches and would be OK, but Preda thought it was a more serious injury.

“A heavy metal gate swung back and hit him in the head; it split his head open,” Preda said in a phone interview on Wednesday. “I assumed the worst … and I had a little bit of an extreme reaction.”

Preda called the school to find out more about his son’s condition, but he said school employees kept transferring him to someone else.

“By the time I spoke to the third person, I lost my cool, and it was a very big mistake. I said, ‘What do I have to do to get you to take this seriously? What if I came down there with a gun?'” Preda said. “I said the wrong thing, and even though I told them I didn’t mean it, they called the police.”

A news outlet on Long Island reported on April 9, 2021 that Preda was arrested after threatening to bring a shotgun to Meadow Drive School. School officials placed the school on lockdown and called 911, and police found a disassembled shotgun and rifle at Preda’s home. He was arrested and charged with making a terroristic threat, a felony, but he says New York police overcharged him, something he claims they do often.

Preda said he cooperated with law enforcement and the courts, and the charge was reduced to “non-criminal violation disorderly conduct.” He paid a fine, attended an anger management class and completed over 100 hours of community service. Preda said he learned a lesson from the experience, and he expected he’d have to answer questions about it when he filed to run for office. He said he apologizes to anyone impacted by the incident in which he triggered a school lockdown, and he wants to move forward by serving on his local school board.

Preda and his family were already in the process of moving to Flower Mound when he was arrested. They moved to Flower Mound in summer 2021, and they quickly realized they liked it better than New York.

“I love my town of Flower Mound,” Preda said. “I lived in New York from the ages of 12-42, and I never felt like part of a community. But as soon as I came here, I feel like I am part of one. I should’ve left earlier.”

Preda, who was born in Romania, described himself as a civic-minded patriotic person who appreciates the American way and Texas culture. He said he’s especially happy to be living in a more conservative area with his wife and two sons, 9 and 4.

“I see some Beto signs around here, but am I going to throw a brick through their window? No,” he said. “But if it was majority Beto signs around, and I put up a Trump sign, they’d throw a brick through mine.”

Preda, an IT systems administrator, said he has no public office experience and he has not attended any LISD board meetings, but he’s running for the LISD Board because he is worried about political correctness seeping into schools, which he likened to communism.

“In the school system in New York, I saw a turning of the tide in an attempt to push politically correct culture, even in second-grade classes,” Preda said. “My son got written up for making a gun symbol with his pointer finger and thumb and saying ‘Bang.'”

Preda described his son’s school and staff as “exemplary, fair and professional,” and he wants to help keep it that way.

“It’s always on my mind that there could be a push for political agendas in stages,” he said. “The first stage is political correctness, the second stage is hypersensitivity and the third is extending programs for fairness. What happens outside this town, and state, resonates here.

“I want to make sure that our schools remain reflecting American values, Texas values, family-oriented values, where everyone learns to play nice, and boys can be boys and girls can be girls. I love this little town and I want to be part of the force that maintains it.”

Early voting will run April 24 through May 2, and Election Day is May 6.

Mark Smith
Mark Smith
Mark Smith is the Digital Editor of The Cross Timbers Gazette.

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