Election 2021 Q&As: Candidates for Elizabeth School District board

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In the election that ends Nov. 2, voters in the Elizabeth School District will select three Board of Education directors. The top three vote-getters will win the election. Ballots go into the mail starting Oct. 8.

The Elbert County News sent questionnaires to each candidate to help voters learn more about them. We asked why they’re running, what qualifies them for office, and what their priorities would be if elected. Here are their responses, edited for clarity.

Craig Blackham

Occupation: I am a retired teacher and I served at the high school for 29 years in the Elizabeth School District.

Time in district: My wife and I have been here 21 years in October. Our two children graduated in 2000 and 2001 from Elizabeth High School.

Why do you want to serve on the school board? 

The current school board has done a wonderful job and has many successes to their credit. As the schools reopen, I hope to be part of the team that ensures students receive the rich educational environment my children enjoyed and that I observed through difficult and prosperous times. 

What would you say are your most important qualifications for the office you’re seeking? 

My experience and observations that span 29 years have allowed me to build relationships among the families and the faculty that can move us forward in a positive direction. Good listening skills and being unflappable during tense situations have allowed me to draw clear conclusions and make suitable plans for any occasion. 

If elected, what would be your first priority in office? 

As I’ve interacted with the community it’s clear they want to know someone is listening. Obviously, I’m not in a position to do anything and yet people already know I will listen. My priority will initially and continually be to listen to all the stakeholders in the educational community. 

What in your view is the greatest single issue facing the school district and how would you address it?

We are all trying to cope with COVID-19 and the results of the pandemic. I’m not sure everyone is clear as to the positive effect of many layers of protection and behaviors that have kept our students safe. Communicating all the steps taken to our students and adults would be one of my first goals.

As things stand now, should students be required to wear masks in class, or should mask wearing be voluntary? 

Masks are only one piece of the puzzle and I totally support any families that choose to have their students wear masks. As I mentioned earlier, masks are only one layer of protection. The same question could be asked of vaccinations as well and my answer would be the same. The last thing I want is masks, vaccinations, or anything else be used to divide people, especially those in the Elizabeth community. Sometimes I think the underlying attempt to micro-group people is a much more sinister problem than the virus itself. 

What are your views on the district’s current policies regarding the teaching of racial issues in American society? 

Without researching board policy, the visible signs I see is a community that looks toward the “content of one’s character” rather than the color of one’s skin. I know “I Have a Dream” has been part of the curriculum but sometimes, quite unexpectedly, behaviors demonstrate that we are closer to the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. than people willing to divide us give us credit for. 

Heather Booth

Occupation: Stay at home Mom

Time in district: Lived 18 years in Elizabeth

Why do you want to serve on the school board? 

Now more than ever I think it’s important to get involved in things that matter to me and create a strong community.

What would you say are your most important qualifications for the office you’re seeking?

I’m a mom of four kids who have been in the Elizabeth School District. I know all the schools very well and have been very involved with them for 18 years. I’m passionate about wanting kids to succeed and have the best environment to do so. 

If elected, what would be your first priority in office? 

As we grow into a larger community and the world becomes more difficult to navigate especially for our youth, I believe we are going to need to improve our mental health services for kids.  

What in your view is the greatest single issue facing the school district and how would you address it?

Critical race theory is one of the major issues facing our school districts today. We need to be proactive with our policies in keeping these types of agendas out of the school district.

As things stand now, should students be required to wear masks in class, or should mask wearing be voluntary? 

I believe it should be voluntary. We don’t know the medical status of each child and therefore it should be up to them and their parents to make that decision. These are medical policies and that should always be a personal choice.

What are your views on the district’s current policies regarding the teaching of racial issues in American society?

Racial issues are a part of the history of our country and have led to amazing reforms. There is no reason not to teach about race issues, but there are recent agendas out there that seek to create greater division.

David Eddy

Occupation: Colorado Site Director for the Boeing Company

Time in district: I moved to Elizabeth in March of 2010

Why do you want to serve on the school board?

I would like to be a school board member for a number of reasons. The first would be simply to have the opportunity to give back to the community by serving. I have a passion for education here in Colorado and as a part of the school board I would be a part of a group that can have a significant impact on the educational future for all students here in Elizabeth. There are a number of positive programs and initiatives currently underway to improve the educational experience for all of the students within the district and I would welcome the chance to be a part of this going forward.

What would you say are your most important qualifications for the office you’re seeking?

The characteristics that come to mind are integrity, passion for education and a willingness to serve the community. Integrity means doing the right thing in all circumstances, even if no one is watching you. I feel that trust is also a key component of a person’s integrity and trust is earned by actions. Treating people how you would like to be treated is at the foundation of my personal beliefs in my professional life, as a husband and a father and as a member of the Elizabeth community.

If elected, what would be your first priority in office?

My first priority would be to work on a school funding bond so that we can continue the exciting changes that are underway within the district. The need for additional programs that will provide much needed real life work and personal skills can only be accomplished by additional resources that would come from this ballot measure.

What in your view is the greatest single issue facing the school district and how would you address it?

Colorado is near the bottom nationally on dollars per student funding and teacher salaries and rural schools are even in greater need here in the state. Securing additional resources for the Elizabeth School District via a bond measure and also leveraging grants at the national and state level would go a long way in mitigating this issue.

As things stand now, should students be required to wear masks in class, or should mask wearing be voluntary?

As of right now I would say that masks should be voluntary.

What are your views on the district’s current policies regarding the teaching of racial issues in American society?

The district has a board approved curriculum which I support. Any proposed change to this curriculum would need to be vetted and then approved via the school board.

Cary Karcher

Occupation: I have been working in the financial services industry for over 40 years 

Time in district: I have been a resident in the Elizabeth School district for 29 years

Why do you want to serve on the school board? 

I am running for a second term on the Elizabeth School Board for a number of reasons, mostly about helping our kids succeed, and continuing the great things accomplished by this board over the last four years. We successfully closed Frontier High School while introducing the Homegrown Talent Initiative. This provides an alternative curriculum for students wanting to pursue opportunities other than a traditional college. 

What would you say are your most important qualifications for the office you’re seeking? 

As the only board member with four years of experience, I believe my input and participation to be critical to support and work with two new board members for the next four years.

If elected, what would be your first priority in office?

If re-elected, I would continue working to ensure the kids’ success at every level. I would also continue reviewing the curriculum to ensure our conservative approach to teaching continues.

What in your view is the greatest single issue facing the school district and how would you address it?

I think outside influences such as critical race theory are issues that could drive away from traditional learning, which our schools are terrific at providing. Teaching factual historical race related events is more appropriate.

As things stand now, should students be required to wear masks in class, or should mask wearing be voluntary?

The parents and our staff should be making the decision to wear masks, it should be voluntary. The district has done a great job communicating with the families and staff about the protocols to keep us safe. Elizabeth School District had a very successful year with in-person learning last year.

What are your views on the district’s current policies regarding the teaching of racial issues in American society?

Teaching racial issues is an important part of our history, but we need to ensure all sides are taught fact, not opinion.

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