Ex-candidate excoriates opponent in Re-1 race
Post Independent Staff
Basalt candidate Bob Guion may have withdrawn from the Re-1 school board race last week, but he’s still deep in the midst of election politics.
In just a few days, Guion has researched school board election law, questioned a fellow candidate’s ethics and discovered that all is not as it initially appears when it comes to a seemingly simple school board race.
`Lack of integrity’
On Friday, Guion withdrew from the Roaring Fork District Re-1 board of education race. At that time, Guion issued a written statement throwing his full support to Bill Shirley in the race for the District A seat.
Michael Bair is the third candidate in the District A race.
On Tuesday, Guion retracted his endorsement of Shirley’s candidacy following his discovery that Shirley faxed the Post Independent an e-mail written by Guion and sent to Re-1 public information officer Suzie Romig.
Forwarding the e-mail, said Guion, “showed a lack of integrity.”
Guion’s e-mail explained the reasons he would not be participating in three community forums being held in Glenwood Springs, Carbondale and Basalt.
In part, it read, “I don’t believe my position on a number of issues would be particularly well-received by the audiences that typically attend these types of events.”
Guion’s e-mail became public record when it was sent to Re-1 school board members, but the board informally agreed not to distribute it to the press.
“We never had any intention of hiding anything,” Roaring Fork Re-1 superintendent Fred Wall said. “We just felt it was a campaign issue and we didn’t want to take an active role in the election.”
However, Shirley, who was appointed to the board in August, decided to fax a copy of the e-mail to the newspaper anyway.
“Bill went against the actions of the school board by even taking this action,” Guion said. “I believe this shows his desire to win has clouded his ethical judgment. I think Bill did a real disservice to me personally, but also to his fellow board members and Fred Wall.”
That’s caused Guion to turn 180 degrees from his endorsement of Shirley.
“I’ve decided against endorsing Bill Shirley’s candidacy,” said Guion. “Bill accepted my support, but somehow failed to mention that he had forwarded my e-mail to … the Glenwood Post in hopes of damaging my election chances.”
When asked last week about his decision to fax the newspaper Guion’s e-mail, Shirley said simply, “I wanted to defeat the guy.”
Guion said he felt so betrayed by Shirley he is “urging Bill to withdraw from the election for the good of the community.”
When reached for comment Tuesday afternoon regarding Guion’s change of heart, Shirley said he “had no comment at this time,” adding, “in the future, I will possibly comment.”
`A code of conduct’
Guion is also concerned about the potential for a local teacher organization, the Roaring Fork Community Education Association, to make political endorsements and campaign using district equipment and funds.
Glenwood Springs High School teacher Mike Wilde, president of the association, could not be reached for comment.
According to Re-1 school board president Robin Garvik, the RFCEA is a dues-paying teacher organization, and supports teachers in professional issues such as teacher salaries, school calendars and curriculum issues.
The RFCEA is sponsoring community forums in Basalt and Carbondale for school board candidates. The Post Independent, along with the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association, sponsored the Glenwood forum Monday.
Lauren Kingsbery, legal counsel for the Colorado Association of School Boards in Denver, said the RFCEA is permitted to sponsor forums.
“But there is a limitation on them spending public funds for political activities,” she said. “With technology issues, like the use of district e-mail, it becomes a gray issue.”
Said Guion, “I think the board would be wise to define and publish a code of conduct for elections to insure that future candidates’ opportunities aren’t compromised.”
Guion has researched several school board district policies in Denver.
“It’s pretty simple,” he said. “We need to take these past problems and make it better. If it’s presently a gray area, let’s make it black and white.”
Contact Carrie Click: 945-8515, ext. 518
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