Choice is a good thing -- or at least that has been the opinion of the candidates in the pending Steamboat Springs School Board election.
Voters will have plenty of choices because all three School Board races will be contested Election Day.
Friday was the last day for potential candidates to turn in nomination petitions to the district office, and Mike Loomis' last-day entry means the District 5 race, which previously was uncontested, will provide voters a choice.
Loomis, who has two children attending Strawberry Park Elementary School, serves on the Education Fund Board's Educa-tional Excellence Commission. He said he has contemplated running for the School Board for several years.
"I've always thought if the opportunity should come along, I should do it," Loomis said Friday. "It's been a difficult decision because of the time commitment, but I think we need some good people on the board and some choices on the ballot."
Each School Board member represents one of five director districts within the boundaries of the school district. Voters elect representatives from all districts, not just the district in which they reside. Loomis and Mike Skov will compete for the District 5 seat held by Tom Sharp. Sharp is not seeking re-election.
Like Sharp, School Board President Paul Fisher, who represents District 2, is not seeking another term. Education Fund Board member Brian Kelly and Colorado Mountain College professor Jeff Troeger will battle it out for Fisher's seat.
The District 4 seat is being sought by three candidates: incumbent Pat Gleason and Education Fund Board members Jerry Kozatch and Robin Crossan.
The emergence of seven candidates is viewed by some as a reflection of the controversial issues facing the district and a response to some of the decisions made by the School Board. Regardless, a contested School Board election is something area voters haven't seen since 1997.
Superintendent Donna Howell, who recently was hired by the School Board, will be working with at least two new board members this winter, three if Gleason is not re-elected. Howell said she is happy with the number of candidates who have come forward.
"I'm pleased that there's such a level of interest in serving because it's certainly such a time commitment," Howell said. "It's healthy to have a number of people interested."
"I look forward to working with whoever is successful because I think these people want to be part of the district," she said. "The School Board and the superintendent really form a leadership team. They need to work closely together so that the efforts of the team can have positive results for the community."
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