Living in Society

Solon School Board Election 2019 – Take One

Polling Place

Six candidates announced campaigns for two seats on the Solon Community School District board of directors. The election is Nov. 5.

Terms of current board members Adam Haluska and Jim Hauer expire this year. Haluska is seeking reelection, Hauer is not.

Information about the candidates is scarce. This is the first of a couple of posts intended to share information discovered to help determine for whom I will vote.

The all-male school board came under criticism for implementation of the collective bargaining law signed by Governor Terry Branstad on Feb. 17, 2017. On March 13, Aimee Breaux of the Iowa City Press Citizen reported on a confrontational school board meeting using this lede:

Solon school officials should brace for teachers leaving the district if management insists on reducing insurance stipends, teachers union members warned during a particularly tense contract negotiation.

Teachers did leave the district and those contract negotiations remain an open wound.

School board elections are decided by a small slice of the electorate. 498 district voters, 10.05 percent of registered voters, decided the 2017 race that elected Tim Brown, Rick Jedlicka and Dan Coons to the current board with terms expiring in 2021. Low voter turnout means personal networking plays a greater role in candidate support than during a general election with paid advertisements. Networking information is not often public. In the past, groups in the community have been able to activate voters to support their favored candidates. There is no reason to believe networking will play a lesser role on Nov. 5.

This cycle, information will be available in a special article in the Solon Economist. “We will do our standard question and answer interviews prior to the election,” editor Doug Lindner wrote in an email. Some candidates told me via email they are working on the questionnaire. The article is expected in next week’s edition.

There will also be a public candidate forum hosted by the Solon Education Association and Solon Parent Teacher Organization on Tuesday, Oct. 22, from 6:30 until 8 p.m. at Palmer House Stable in Solon.

Yesterday I emailed the same information request to all six candidates, as follows:

School board candidates,

I’m seeking information about you to help me decide which two candidates to support in the Nov. 5 election.

Please take a few moments to reply to this email about your candidacy. I’d like a response by Friday, Oct. 18.

I didn’t see any information about your campaign in a Google search. If you have a campaign site, please provide a link.

Why are you running?

How would you like to change the direction of the board, if at all?

Please provide a brief resume of your skills and qualifications.

Have you ever held elected office previously? If so, which one?

I do plan to vote so any response will be helpful. Thanks in advance for your cooperation.
Regards, Paul

Thus far I’ve heard from three candidates, and hope to hear from them all before publishing results of my query.

Here’s who is running in this non-partisan race.

Note the election is framed as non-partisan, and many of us look for what skills candidates bring to the office more than party preference. Voters often have to compromise their partisanship in a school board election to pick the best of the field. I voted for Republican Adam Haluska when he was elected in 2015 for that reason. This year’s election is a new field of candidates and incumbency is not necessarily positive after the contract negotiations. I’ll take a look at what Haluska did on the board.

Finally, I mentioned the current all-male board. Voters told me they would like to see women on the school board. My position is we should vote for the best qualified candidates regardless of gender. If female candidates offer the best outcomes for the school board, they should be given fair consideration. If they represent the best of the six, they should be elected. Determining who is “best” is part of what I’m doing with these posts.

Thanks for reading. The current plan is posts about responses to my query, analysis of the public record of the incumbent, analysis of the Solon Economist article, and a post about what happens at the candidate forum.

To view the series of posts, click on this link to the tag 2019 SSB Election.