Herndon:School Board Race Has a Wealth of Candidates | Dateline Wright's Mesa
by Grace Herndon
Aug 22, 2007 | 978 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Most people here would like to forget the messy business a few years ago about banning books and the ever-so-slight whiff of “book burning.”  But that odor, however slight, hangs over the Norwood School District’s upcoming school board election.

The book, of course, was Rudolfo Anaya’s classic Bless Me, Ultima. And while school officials ultimately backed off their support for the original decision to drop the book from a high school reading list, and new Norwood School District Superintendent David Crew will begin with a fresh slate, three school district director seats are up for election this fall. In addition, a fourth school board seat is being vacated by boardmember Tom LaFramboise, who has recently been appointed to the post of Assistant Principal. (During his time on the board LaFramboise was also the district’s vocational education teacher.)

According to school officials, boardmembers will use their appointment powers to fill the La Framboise vacancy. State law allows such appointments if a letter of resignation is submitted to the school board less that 90 days prior to the next school board election. LaFranboise’s letter is scheduled to be considered by school directors at their regular August 21 meeting. Following the Nov.6 election, Doc Williams, currently board president, will be the only holdover member on this five-member board.

State-imposed term limits will end the eight-year tenure of the three vacating board members, Milt Spor, Tom Collander, and Trace Campbell. Curiously, people here have a hard time remembering when a woman served on this board. But that could change this fall. So far, two local women, Martha Schmalz and Liza Tanguay, are circulating candidate petitions, and Andyra Brantingham says she may run, and that her husband, Eric, is a possible candidate as well.

Two years ago, Eric Brantingham, then a relative newcomer, lost his bid for a seat on the Norwood school board. Eric is the assistant fire managment officer for both the U.S Forest Service and the federal Bureau of Land Management in this area. The Brantinghams have two young sons, a first-grader and a third-grader. Andyra  is presently the highly regarded executive director of the Wright Stuff Foundation, with a Masters Degree in Special Education and a PhD. in Curriculum and Instruction.

School officials here say Robert “Bobby” Harris, a local contractor, is also circulating a nomination petition. He and his wife Molly have four children. People here note that her family has a long tradition with this school district; Molly’s father, Robert “Bob” Hardman, served some 20 years on the Norwood school board

Candidate Martha “Marty” Schmalz is a longtime community activist, who as a parent has worked closely with school district personnel on a variety of school matters. She and her husband, Rick, have two boys. Skyler Hollinbeck will be a senior this year, while Mesa Hollinbeck, 20, graduated from Norwood High School two years ago and now attends Ft. Lewis College in Durango. According to San Miguel County Clerk Peggy Nerlin, whose office represents the Colorado Secretary of State in these matters,  Norwood resident Liza Tanguay has also picked up a nomination petition.

One of Wright’s Mesa’s growing number of Telluride commuters, Liza and her husband, Eric, are the parents of a young daughter. Mom Liza has been actively campaigning and is hosting an introductory open house Sunday, August 19 in Norwood.  Earlier, three parents (Martha Schmalz, Andyra Brantingham and Liza Tanguay) hosted a pubic  meeting – largely ignored – to assess interest in this fall’s school board election and encourage others to become candidates.   

This week, however, it’s heads-up time. According to state rules, nomination petitions for the Nov. 6 election, available since August 8, must be filed by August 31. In addition, school district officials here say, to fill the anticipated La Framboise board vacancy, they will solicit “letters of interest” from prospective candidates.  So far, it’s hard to tell if current school boardmembers already have someone in mind for this spot.

This school district, which takes in the Redvale community some 15 miles to the west, is growing. Around Norwood, new young families are everywhere. I see them in the grocery store and the post office and talking in cheerful clusters on the sunny side of Norwood’s main street. Change is in the air. And that’s a good thing. Some years ago, the Telluride school board, once dominated by conservative longtime residents, began to change, to open up to members of the public who had new ideas and different expectations.

It’s obvious today that the Wright’s Mesa community – Norwood and Redvale – is ripe for changes in this school district as well.

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