New faces for Roaring Fork school board: After and DeFrates set to take seats
The latest school board election within the Roaring Fork School District has brought forward new faces, Betsy After and Lindsay DeFrates, as the apparent winners for District B and C, respectively. As the community continues to count votes, the lead of After and DeFrates suggests a forthcoming tenure on the board.
Unofficial results from Tuesday night show After’s 4,440 (76.55%) votes are beating challenger Alan Kokish’ 1,360 (23.45%) in the District B race.
DeFrates’ 4,179 votes (73.63%) lead Phillip Bogart’s 1,497 (26.37%) in the District C race.
An election that saw very few differences in candidate concerns in the district, the newly passed 3 R’s health curriculum became a hot topic of discussions during candidate forums during the election’s course.
After and DeFrates, both supporters of the 3 R’s health curriculum, have emerged as the favored candidates , while their opponents, Kokish and Bogart, oppose the curriculum. The candidates found common ground on matters crucial to the district, such as enhancing staff housing and the need to select a new superintendent in the wake of Superintendent Jésus Rodrigúez’s resignation.
DeFrates shared her feelings on the impending victory.
“I’m feeling the weight of the trust that the community has in me pretty heavily right now,” she said. “We have a lot of work to do and I am really excited for the opportunity to be a part of this board.”
She also reflected on the personal impact of her candidacy.
“The decision for me to run for the school board in the first place was a family decision,” DeFrates said. “I am not going to have as much time with my husband and kids, but the work being done here is very important for our valley and our students.”
After compared her new role to embarking on a new job with its inherent nervous excitement and responsibilities.
“You get nervous because you want to be able to do the best job possible,” After said. “This is a very pivotal moment for our school district, especially in a time like right now and I am excited to contribute in the best way possible.”
After elaborated on the future vision for the district.
“We have an opportunity to choose a course for the future that is going to build a foundation for this entire valley,” she said. “We have the opportunity to hire a superintendent who can lead our schools and who can mirror the values that we have, who can challenge us to do better.”
Kokish, despite his stance against the health curriculum and his loss to After, showed respect for the democratic process.
“The voters have spoken. Congratulations to Betsy. I am confident she will represent the district respectfully and competently.”
In District D, lone incumbent Jasmin Ramirez ran unopposed and will continue her term on the board.
“I am excited to be working with our directors coming in and continuing this role to help do what’s best for our school district,” Ramirez said. “I am very excited to be able to work with my colleagues to make progress happen during my second term on this board.”
As the new members prepare to take their seats and the district awaits official results, a regularly scheduled board meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, where acting superintendent Anna Cole will be appointed as interim superintendent for the remainder of the 2023-24 school year. The board will also enter an executive session to discuss the purchase, acquisition or lease of a house for future superintendents. The board is scheduled to meet at 6:15 p.m. Wednesday at the Carbondale District Office, 400 Sopris Ave.
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