District gets contested election

Businessman enters School Board race for District 4 seat

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Steamboat business owner Jerry Kozatch announced Friday he will seek a spot on the Steamboat Springs School District School Board, apparently guaranteeing the first contested School Board election in six years.

Kozatch, the father of two high school students, will vie for the District No. 4 seat held by Pat Gleason. Last week, Gleason said he will seek a second term on the School Board.

"It really has nothing to do with (Gleason)," Kozatch said of his decision. "I think I'll be able to make more effective changes at the School Board level than at the (Education) Fund Board level."

Kozatch and his family moved from Denver to Steamboat in 1996, and he's been involved in the school district ever since. He has served on the District Accountability Committee for six years, the Fund Board's Educational Excellence and Growth commissions for four years and the Fund Board for three years.

"I haven't lived here for 20 years, but I have a lot of history with school involvement," said Kozatch, who owns Ambiente, a home furnishings and gift store downtown on Lincoln Avenue.

Kozatch hopes to have his nomination petition completed and filed by early next week; the deadline for submission is Friday. He expects several other qualified candidates to announce their School Board intentions next week.

"I think it will be a good thing for Steamboat Springs to have some good choices," Kozatch said. "I think it's going to be very exciting and very good for the district."

Colorado Mountain College professor Jeff Troeger is the only candidate to be certified by the district. Candidates aren't certified until the approval of nomination petitions containing the signatures of at least 50 registered and valid voters.

Troeger, who has been a fixture at School Board meetings much of the past year, will run for the District No. 2 seat being vacated by board President Paul Fisher.

Troeger cited his experience in the field of education and a personal interest -- he has two sons who attend Steamboat public schools -- as primary reasons for his decision to run. He also said he's concerned for the district in the wake of what he described as "a rocky year."

"With the election of at least two new School Board members and the recent hiring of a new superintendent, we have an opportunity to move forward," Troeger said in an e-mail.

As of Friday, no candidates from District No. 5, the seat held by Tom Sharp, had announced plans to run. Sharp will not seek re-election.

The district operates under a director district plan, meaning school board members represent a particular geographical area in which they reside. However, board members are elected by all district voters, not just those who live within their specific director district. A map detailing each director district is available for viewing at the district's administrative office at 325 Seventh St.

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