Hayden school board candidates to face off

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— When the most coveted seat in Hayden belongs to the School Board, taking turns and sharing are not options.

The four candidates who are vying for the District 5 seat will square off tonight at Hayden Town Hall.

The 7 p.m. forum, facilitated by Mark Fisher, Hayden's lone attorney, and County Clerk Kay Weinland, will allow both the candidates and the public to speak out on the issues that concern them.

"It gives them (the candidates) an opportunity to respond to a couple of slow-pitch questions, and then we'll see where it goes," Fisher said.

He said he does not expect a huge showing, given the low-key election on Nov. 6.

"But we're still providing the service to the public, regardless how many people show up," he added.

Fisher said he is hopeful the forum will help the District 5 candidates differentiate themselves to the voters.

Sticking out from the rest of the field is something that Andrea Hayden hopes to accomplish tonight.

Having no children in the school district gives her a unique perspective, she said.

"It allows me to seek this position without an ax to grind," Hayden said. "I can be totally objective."

She and her husband, William, however, do employ a large number of students at Hayden Mercantile, the business they have owned and operated for 11 years.

"We hear on a daily basis what the teachers and principals are or are not doing," Hayden said. "Their (the students') concerns are legitimate and really need to be addressed."

She promised that as a board member she would be relentless in pursuit of excellence.

Mediocrity is unacceptable, she added.

"If we take the bull by the horns now, we can create an excellent school district," Hayden said. "People will invest in a good school, but they choose to invest in an excellent school district."

Melvin Richardson said he would support what currently works in the school district and would seek improvement for what warrants change.

"We need to continue with what we have and improve on what we don't have," he said.

He said he wants to provide the best educational experience for his two children.

Richardson, the maintenance supervisor at Yampa Valley Regional Airport, said he is willing to admit his inexperience with School Board issues in order to learn from veteran School Board members.

"It will be a learning process," he said. "But I want to be involved."

Brian Hoza brings 18 years of experience in higher education to the table.

He now serves as the assistant campus dean for student services at Colorado Mountain College's Alpine Campus.

He has intentionally worked on smaller campuses to allow him greater contact with the students, he said.

The district's small size will give him that same closeness with students, faculty and parents, he said.

"We all want the benefits of a small, close-knit community, but we also want to be sure that the schools are strong, and children have the best opportunity to do what is important to them," Hoza said.

The father of five children, Hoza said he has a vested interest in their education.

Hoza said he would be mindful, as a School Board member, to ensure all students in the district found support and were challenged, regardless of their direction in life after high school.

Today's priorities are tomorrow's realities, he added.

"The decisions that are now made have a huge impact on where the schools are going in the next four years and beyond," Hoza said.

As a substitute teacher in Hayden schools for several years, Kathy Hockett has seen the value of reaching students at an

early age.

Hockett has a degree in teaching but chose to stay at home with her two young children.

The district has an important responsibility to educate children and provide a safe and supportive learning environment for them, she said.

As a School Board member, she would uphold this responsibility, she said.

"I am committed to helping our children receive a quality education and strong family values," Hockett said.

Hockett applauded the School Board for its commitment to pursuing the needs of the community.

"There are community-oriented people on the School Board who continually have listened to the needs of the community," Hockett said.

"I think the question we must now ask is how can we best preserve our small-town community."

A strong belief in youth values will ensure such preservation, she added.

Kurt Frentress of District 3 and Patty Bruchez of District 1 are running unopposed, but they are invited to share their concerns with the public.

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