Paris native and North Lamar graduate Justin Wideman is in a race May 1 against three other candidates for one of two three-year positions on the North Lamar ISD board of trustees.

Other candidates include Teresa Bussell, Dr. Clint Spencer and Jimmy Fendley. The top two vote recipients will be named to positions currently held by Jeff Martin and Kristi Trammell, both of whom chose not to seek re-election.

“I would like to see the district restored to where we were when I was in school,” Wideman said. “We have a lot of heritage to build on. There’s a lot of good things that have come out of North Lamar, a lot of people who have come from the district who have made a huge impact on this community.”

Wideman said he would like to be a part of a board that will back the superintendent, a board that has the same vision.

“I think a lot of the reason (former superintendent) James Dawson was so successful was because he had a board that would stand behind him and that would hold him up when things get rough,” Wideman said. “I think Kelli Stewart needs that kind of support, but she is not going to get it until we have a board with the same vision for the district that she has, the same passion to take the district in the same direction.”

The candidate said the current administration has his support because of its performance over the past year.

“Considering what we have been through with this Covid thing, I think the administration has done a good job of turning things around following several years of uncertainty,” Wideman said. “The superintendent was wise in putting together this bond election with the community advisory committee, the community survey and all the planning that has gone into promoting the bond. We have got to pass this bond for the students and the faculty, and I believe strongly that we will.”

Wideman stressed the importance of accountability, and said he would always be forthright about his decisions.

“I think accountability is huge, and I respect the current administration and the board for being up front,” Wideman said. “I think if we’re ever going to regain the trust of the people in the district, it is going to have to be through transparency. I think there have been a lot of moves made in the past that were not so transparent that are being questioned now.”

Wideman said he has no special agenda other than to “bleed blue and gold.”

“I think it would be a huge opportunity for me to work with the current board to serve the students and to serve the faculty,” Wideman said. “I would like to get in there, see where we are and then set obtainable goals for the district. I think it would be a huge opportunity for me to give back to something I care about.”

Pastor at Direct Baptist Church, Wideman is married to Stephanie Wideman. The couple has one son, Parker.

Mary Madewell is a staff writer for The Paris News. She can be reached at 903-785-6976 or at

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