District 16 fills three seats
RIFLE ” Now that the election is over, the Parachute and Battlement Mesa communities can go to work mending bridges.
The unofficial results of the hotly contested Garfield County School District No. 16 school board election landed Amy Beasley, Gary Munyer and incumbent board president Dannette Christensen in the three open seats that nine candidates were vying to fill.
“I’m happy,” Christensen said. “I hope we can begin to bring our community back together now. We’ve been pretty divided.”
The unoffical results were very close with Beasley getting 564 votes, Munyer 472 and Christensen recording 466. Denise Gallegos fell just short with 457 votes. The rest of the totals were: Bill Middleton, 401; H. Wayne Wolchek, 363; Mary Ellen Denomy, 352; Beret Brenckman, 240; and Thomas Matza 197.
Tempers have run hot over the last few months. Candidates, current board members and community members have written letters to the editor about the candidates and about the current board.
Those opinions were not just public.
“There were a lot of e-mails that went back and forth that were pretty bad,” Christensen said. “There’s been a lot of mud slung. This much turmoil ” it got to be pretty ugly.”
She said she believes the board can work through the tough times and become a cohesive board.
Candidates from two different groups ran for office. One group, the one Christensen and Beasley represent, argues that the district is doing well and headed in a good direction. The other group, which Munyer represents, would like to see major changes.
“I have a lot of work to do,” Munyer said Tuesday night. “The other people I hoped would be there with me didn’t make it. But I think I’ll be able to make a difference. It would have been easier if I would have been with others who have the same ideas about change ” quicker. It would have happened quicker, but the change will happen.”
Beasley said she was pleased with the results. Munyer, Christensen and Gallegos were head-to-head within about 20 points of each other for most of the night.
“I’m excited about the way people are voting,” Beasley said after early results were released. “I think it shows people really are happy with the way the board is headed.”
Beasley, like Christensen and Munyer, was not always excited about the way she was treated.
“It was tough,” Beasley said. “There was a point in the middle of all of this, when I doubted whether or not I should stick it out. I’ve never wanted to be a part of stirring the pot. I took a night and did some soul-searching. I decided I had to follow my heart. I was running in the first place for my kids and for our community. I knew I had to follow through.”
Despite all the mud they traipsed through to get there, all three candidates said they are glad they arrived at their goals.
The new board members will be sworn in at the regular board meeting at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 8. The board will also select its new officers at that time.
“We’ve got some hurdles to get over,” Christensen said. “We’ll get over them and we’ll get together. It’s all about the kids. That’s what’s important.”
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