Compare and contrast: Re-1 candidates put to test |

Compare and contrast: Re-1 candidates put to test

by Carrie Click
Post Independent Staff

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – Candidates for the upcoming Roaring Fork School District Re-1 board of education election on Monday cited district finances, teacher morale, cultural diversity and student achievement as a few of the top issues facing the school board.

About 30 people – including the candidates, the press, audience members and organizers – attended a community forum at the Glenwood Springs City Hall on Monday evening. It was the first of three community forums that will be held throughout the district prior to the mail-in election on Nov. 4.

The forum was sponsored by the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association and the Glenwood Springs Post Independent, and was covered live by the local cable access television station on Channel 12.

Nine candidates vying for five seats on the school board took turns answering questions from Garfield County Commissioner Tresi Houpt, who moderated the event. The questions were formulated by Houpt, Glenwood Chamber executive director Marianne Virgili, and Post Independent managing editor Heather McGregor. Two additional questions came from audience members near the end of the forum.

Facing the challenges

Only one candidate, incumbent Peter Delany from District E, is running unopposed. The other four board seats have two candidates each vying for a spot.

Delany, who’s served on the board for two years, said former board member Bruce Matherly once told him “that it takes at least a year to get up to speed on the school board. I’d like to use some of the experience I’ve gained to continue our district generating happy, healthy kids,” Delany said.

Generating a laugh, incumbent Susan Hakanson, from District D (part of the Glenwood Springs area), introduced herself, stating that not only was she “the only member actually elected to the board, but the only woman currently running in the election.”

Hakanson, who’s served on the Re-1 board for four years, said she decided to run again because she is passionate about public education, “not only for my own children, but for all children in our county, our state and our country. Everyone deserves a quality public education.”

Ken Melby is running against Hakanson in District. A member of a number of district committees, including the district accountability committee, he said he felt his background as a general contractor could especially serve the district with its upcoming plans to remodel and rebuild existing school buildings.

Bill Shirley from District A (Basalt area), who was appointed to the school board in August after Bruce Matherly resigned, said he is “very concerned” with the “No Child Left Behind” federal mandates, and that student achievement is his top concern.

“Very clearly, we must educate all our children to be critical-thinking adults, prepared for life-long learning in a high-tech world,” Shirley said.

His opponent, candidate Michael Bair, said he is running for the school board to “be proactive.

“I’ve watched (Re-1 board president Robin Garvik) during the last eight years and seen what amazing challenges she and the board have faced,” Bair said. “Now it’s my opportunity to help with the changes that have come to the valley in the last few years.”

Bruce Wampler, from District C (also in the Glenwood Springs area), was appointed to his seat almost a year ago when Houpt resigned from the board after she was elected county commissioner.

“I believe in public education,” Wampler said. “I’ve just gotten started as a board member. I know the challenges we are facing.”

Wampler’s opponent, Bob Arrington, said his experience as an officer of the Parent Teacher Student Association and School Improvement Accountability Committee for nine years in Denver helped him formulate his stand on public education.

“It’s `The Three R’s Your Way,'” he told the audience. “Each local district develops its own goals and accountability program tailored to its community and consistent with state goals.”

Brad Zeigel, running for District B (in the Carbondale area), said he’d like to see the board shift from reacting to state and federal mandates.

“The federal and state pressures are real,” Zeigel said. “We need to take a leadership role in standards-based education.”

Zeigel’s opponent, Rio Jacober, said he was ready to make progressive decisions if he were elected to the board.

“We need to give the decisions back to our communities,” Jacober said. “We need to bring back community-based education.”

The next community forum will be held at the Basalt Middle School auditorium from 6:30-9 p.m., on Wednesday, Oct. 1, and a third will be held at the Roaring Fork High School auditorium from 6:30-9 p.m., on Monday, Oct. 6.

The Nov. 4 election is strictly a mail-in vote.

Contact Carrie Click: 945-8515, ext. 518

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