With the two-week filing period open, two more candidates have announced their bids for posts on the Blaine County School District’s board of trustees.
Hailey attorney Keith Roark and mid-valley business owner Lara Stone both told the Idaho Mountain Express that they intend to run for separate seats. Roark will campaign for the Zone 3 seat expected to be vacated by current board Chairwoman Ellen Mandeville, who has said she plans to move out of her zone and will not seek re-election. Stone will challenge incumbent Trustee Kevin Garrison in Zone 5.
Early this month, Bellevue accountant Alexis Lindberg announced her candidacy for the south county’s Zone 1 seat. That’s expected to be open, too; Trustee Ryan Degn, who was appointed to the job last fall, has said he doesn’t plan to run for re-election.
Those are the three seats up for grabs this year: Zone 1, covering Carey, Picabo and southern Bellevue; Zone 3, in western Hailey; and Zone 5, which spans from Indian Creek north to the county line.
The filing period is open until 5 p.m. Friday, Sept. 6. Prospective candidates must complete a declaration of candidacy, and collect signatures from five other registered voters on a petition of candidacy. Both forms are available at the Blaine County Clerk’s Office, the BCSD’s district office and online at co.blaine.id.us/196/Elections. Both must be signed and sealed by a notary, then delivered to the clerk of the school board. She’ll batch the documents and submit them to the county clerk by Sept. 13.
Here’s a look at the two newest candidates to announce, starting with the expected contested race for Zone 5.
In the 18 months since acting as an effective ally in the School District’s successful levy campaign, Stone has grown more critical of district leadership—and launched her campaign as a critic of the current board.
“I have seen firsthand that the current BCSD board has abdicated the responsibilities its trustees took an oath to fulfill,” she said in a statement.
Her main criticisms: “poorly conceived and abruptly implemented” policy, “lack of transparency” and “acceptance of top-down management” from district brass.
As a critic, Stone isn’t a budget hawk. Serving on the district’s advisory Finance Committee in 2017, she actively pushed to divert money from the district’s plant facilities levy to pay for general fund operations. And, she supports future levies to pay for future plans. Her worry is that in the current climate, they won’t pass.
“I helped campaign for the school levy in March 2018, and heard from hundreds of residents that they no longer trusted or respected their School District’s trustees or administration,” she said. “I am concerned that our community’s lack of faith in the school board threatens our ability to raise funds for necessary programs and to recruit good teachers, both critical for educational excellence. The first step is rebuilding public trust in the school board.”
Stone is no longer on the Finance Committee, but she still volunteers with the group to help compile the numbers as it moves toward recommending a new levy for buildings, maintenance and technology in 2020. There, she works with Garrison, the board liaison.
Garrison was appointed to the board in 2017. The Indian Creek resident and Hailey business owner previously announced plans to run again in 2019.
In his 42 years in the valley, Roark has already held two elected offices, serving as the county’s prosecuting attorney for more than six years, and Hailey’s mayor for four.
Now, he’s looking for a third: representing Zone 3 on the school board. So far, he’s alone in that pursuit; no other candidates have announced to replace Mandeville.
His reasons sound a lot like Stone’s: holding the current board to task for what he views as a decay in transparency, accessibility and public trust.
“I have come to this decision after several months of conversations with various stakeholders of the district, including teachers, parents, students and patrons,” Roark said in a statement. “I have found a broad consensus among all of these groups that the district board of trustees is not currently meeting its obligation to lead and govern the district.
“We can and must do better. I firmly believe that our board of trustees has to re-establish its authority and responsibility for truly governing the district rather than simply delegating that authority and responsibility to district employees. We must have accountability.”