Three in running to fill vacant Garfield Re-2 school board seat
Three prospective candidates have stepped up to fill the recently vacated seat on the Garfield School District Re-2 Board of Education, and they are to be interviewed for the opening at a special meeting Monday.
Vying to replace Katie Mackley in the District C (Rifle) seat on the five-person board are local bank worker and Re-2 parent Fathom Jensen; local business owner, chamber volunteer and parent-grandparent Holly Miller; and Christina Maness, also an Re-2 parent and office manager for Silt-based Colorado Mountain Honey.
The candidates will each be interviewed during a special board meeting slated for 6 p.m. Monday at the school district offices in Rifle.
The board is expected to make an appointment that night. That person is to be sworn in Nov. 17, at the same time as those elected in Tuesday’s school board election for three other seats on the board.
However, the new appointee will serve out the remainder of Mackley’s term until November 2023, and those elected Tuesday are to serve four-year terms until November 2025.
The appointment was necessitated by Mackley’s Oct. 13 resignation over the poor treatment she said she and other board members and district staff have been subjected to due to their support of a mask requirement in school buildings to guard against the spread of COVID-19.
“In the past few weeks, we have been met with screaming at school board meetings, threats to our personal safety, we have been repeatedly maligned and misrepresented on social media and have been stalked in public,” Mackley said in announcing her decision at the board’s Oct. 13 meeting. “I never could have imagined that these things were possible, especially over a piece of cloth.”
A handful of people spoke against the mask requirement during the public comment portion of Wednesday’s school board meeting. However, the large crowd gathered in a show of force around the mask issue did not disrupt the meeting.
In their letters of interest submitted to the board, some of those vying to fill the vacant board seat addressed the situation.
“As a parent of two young children within our district, I understand and value the relationship that the board and the community should have,” Jensen writes. “I believe that over the course of the last few years, a distrust between the two has formed. I believe I would be an asset to help repair the relationship so that our children can benefit and grow.”
Jensen expressed concern that the education-centered goals of the district have been put on hold during the pandemic.
“Due to the strain of the past 20 months, these long-term goals have been placed on the back burner, and I believe it is time to get back to basics so that our children and community can prosper,” she writes.
Maness writes in her letter, “I was saddened by the resignation of Katie Mackley. … I believe that my skills and experience can be valuable to the Garfield Re-2 School Board at this time,” she said.
Maness also noted in support of the district policy, “Through its leadership, our community’s children have been able to stay in-person learning and receiving an exceptional education from our dedicated teachers and staff.”
Candidate Miller, in her letter, called Mackley’s resignation “shocking.” She noted that she grew up in Rifle and has had a long career working with troubled youth.
Miller wrote that she had intended to run for one of the school board seats that was up for election this fall, until she learned that District C was not one of those.
After several years away, “I moved to Rifle in the summer of 2018 where my husband and I have chosen to root our family,” Miller wrote. “I have continued my passion for volunteer work, and in January of 2020 I became an Ambassador of your Western Garfield County Chamber of Commerce. I love this beautiful community that I grew up in, and I am committed to cultivating relationships between our diverse population of people, views and politics.”
Senior Reporter/Managing Editor John Stroud can be reached at 970-384-9160 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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