District 11 Board of Education (four positions)
For the first time in a while, School District 11 voters can choose from seven public-spirited individuals seeking to oversee the region's largest school district. That said, they have significant differences in style and substance. The following candidates merit your support.
Chyrese Exline: She feels she stands alone among the field "as far as being truly progressive," and it's hard to argue. Enormously involved as a D-11 volunteer, she has many ideas, such as thoroughly evaluating all children in kindergarten. Another major goal: to catalyze outreach programs designed to increase parent involvement, especially in upper grades. She's an expert in helping people deal with bureaucracy; her day job involves assisting people entitled to Medicaid get their benefits. Exline's positive energy, coupled with her district knowledge, will make her an effective advocate for parents and children.
Jan Tanner: Educated on the issues and a problem-solver, Tanner does not give in to the board or administration. She was chosen by voters last December as the recall replacement for Sandy Shakes. Prior to that, Tanner had been D-11's volunteer board treasurer. She feels charters should be closely evaluated and aren't always the best solution. She understands budgeting and is professional and mature.
Tom Strand: Appointed after Craig Cox's resignation, Strand took it upon himself to visit every D-11 school, more than 60 in all. A retired military attorney, he lived here (and his wife was a D-11 special-ed teacher) in the 1970s, the district's heyday. He's concerned that "flawed" standardized tests are overemphasized. He has put much effort into D-11's bond-oversight committee and can make sure that money is spent properly.
Bob Null: Yes, the same Bob Null ("No bull") who ran unsuccessfully for City Council in April and as a write-in against Doug Bruce in 2004. We concur with his disdain for "teaching to the CSAP test" and his view that the district has gone too far with site-based management. He likes the idea of magnet schools and wants D-11 to consider sharing resources with other districts.
We praise the effort of Charlie Bobbitt, chosen in the recall election to replace Eric Christen. There's no questioning Bobbitt's affection for D-11, or his desire to project the best image possible (reminiscent of former City Councilman Bernie Herpin). If there were not stronger candidates, we could have endorsed him.
We also applaud the service of incumbent Willie Breazell Sr. But he has baggage, having supported vouchers and voted to dump former superintendent Sharon Thomas. He talks a lot about waste but has to share in that accountability.
Manitou Springs mayor
Being a small player in an ever-growing pond makes it imperative that city leaders have chutzpah and skills to fight for resources and respect at the regional, state and federal levels. The town is blessed with dedicated, caring citizens seeking to serve as mayor.
This race changed dramatically with incumbent Mark Morland's health-related withdrawal last month. That left three City Council members in the race.
Eric Drummond: He has young kids in Manitou schools and a strong record heading the local Economic Development Council and co-chairing last year's successful effort to increase the local mill levy and raise teacher salaries. The 47-year-old Drummond has the ability, energy and administrative skills to bring inclusive decision-making to council.
In past council elections, we endorsed Donna Ford (now a mayoral candidate). We hope the past chair of the Manitou Chamber will remain active civically.
Manitou Springs City Council (three positions)
Aimee Cox: She spearheaded efforts to rehabilitate Manitou's Memorial Park, adding the way-cool Manizoo sandbox, and has raised more than $100,000 in grant money to update and improve Soda Springs Park. Her grant-writing expertise and positive attitude make her a solid addition.
Marc A. Snyder: A local attorney and father of two Manitou Elementary students, Snyder has served well the past four years. He is easygoing, accessible and articulate. He deserves a second term.
Ed Klingman: Past president of the Manitou Springs Business Improvement District and co-owner of Retromoto Toys, Klingman will help ensure Manitou remains as untouched as possible by development pressures.