Steamboat School Board elects 5th member in highly contested race
January 9, 2014
Steamboat Springs — In one of the biggest candidate pools for an open-seat election the Steamboat Springs School Board has had in recent memory, the panel finally got to full strength Thursday evening.
The School Board unanimously elected Scott Bideau to fill the open seat, and for the first time since July, the district knows who its permanent members will be for at least two years.
School Board President Rebecca Williams called it "the hardest decision we've had to make as a board so far." Williams and the other three board members spent much of Monday evening scrambling by their phones, making one last push to stimulate community interest for the open seat, for which applications were due Wednesday.
The effort paid off as six candidates were interviewed during Thursday's special meeting.
"This is definitely the most interesting and exciting race we've had," Williams said. "I've been on the board for two years now, and numerous times, we haven't had five board members."
Bideau first moved to Steamboat Springs with his family in 2007 but only stayed a year before moving away for a job opportunity. The Bideaus returned to Routt County permanently in 2011. He also has two children, a son who will be in kindergarten next year and a daughter a few years younger.
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Bideau is a location-neutral sales executive with a bachelor's degree in computer science engineering and an MBA from the University of Kansas. He said he's been involved in numerous local organizations, including the 4 Yellow Foundation, Ignite Steamboat and the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club Foundation.
"I've always had a special passion for children," Bideau said. "My general outlook is adults can do what they need to do, but children need to be led through their early years. They need mentoring and so forth."
Bideau beat out what Williams called a phenomenal pool of candidates, including Jim Kissane, who held the District 2 seat before resigning in July 2013 because of district boundary constraints.
In November, voters approved a measure to move away from the district boundary requirements to an at-large policy.
"I think (at-large seats) allowed us to get the best possible candidate on the School Board," Williams said. "Out of the six contestants, only one was able to run in the previous election. Five of those people potentially had interest at the time but were restricted because of the district seats."
Bideau said he will be in the "listen mode" for a bit as he settles into his new role. The chance to give back to Steamboat's education system, he said, was inspired less by the tools he used in his childhood classrooms and more by a select few teachers who led them.
"It was one or two teachers that really started that for me," Bideau said. "The rest of them supported it, but I didn't choose my college degree based on the specific classes I took, and I didn't become a computer engineer because of the computers we had in my classroom. It was one teacher encouraging me to try something new and get inspired by that."