Living in Society

Solon School Board Election

When the Solon community is unsettled about how K-12 schools are being managed, a lot of candidates run for school board. Thursday, Sept. 16, was the filing deadline for the Nov. 2 election and seven candidates filed for three non-partisan positions. They are:

  • Erika Billerbeck
  • Timothy Brown (incumbent)
  • Dan Coons (incumbent)
  • Kelly Edmonds
  • Stacey Munson
  • Michael Neuerberg
  • Cassie Rochholz

I have biases in this race based on who and what I know about the candidates and issues. That is part and parcel of living in a community and other voters may feel the same way. I plan to research all seven and lay out their agenda as much as it is spoken in public and knowable. There will be a series of posts to make up for the lack of coverage by major television, radio and print media. I intend to stay neutral although I already know who will get two of my three votes.

My agenda is straight forward. 1). Make sure there is adequate, timely coverage of relevant events in the election process. 2). Include all the candidates. 3). Elect another woman to the board to work toward gender equity. 4). Make sure no political extremists are elected to the board.

The right wing Heritage Foundation and their political action group Heritage Action have a presence in Eastern Iowa. They targeted school boards nationwide in the upcoming elections. Centered primarily on opposition to what they call “critical race theory,” the cadre of their activists includes many anti-vaxxers. In our district I don’t expect there to be a problem, yet I want to evaluate each candidate using this litmus test. As a former chair of the county board of health, I know vaccinations will mitigate the spread of the coronavirus in our community. I have little tolerance for political candidates who are anti-vaxxers. Here’s hoping there aren’t any.

There is dissent about the school district decision to not mandate face coverings on school property after a federal judge put a stay on the recent law prohibiting mask mandates. Signatures were collected on a petition for a mask mandate and submitted at the Sept. 16 school board meeting. The way the coronavirus pandemic was handled by the district will be an election issue.

In 2019 the board’s handling of contract negotiations with the union was not well received. Discontent resulted in six candidates for two board positions. In the end, voters supported the incumbent instead of throwing him out over collective bargaining. If it wasn’t important enough to convince voters to remove the incumbent when it was a hot issue, it becomes part of the background noise. If incumbents Brown and Coons lose this election, it won’t be solely about the collective bargaining agreement.

Post filing deadline, candidates are busy deciding about their campaigns. The main decisions are about budgets, yard signs, a campaign website, and how to win votes. Those that carefully deliberate on these four things and work hard to execute their plan will come out on top.

This is an election about whether dissatisfaction about the way the district is being run will be enough to remove two incumbents, who themselves are strong candidates with a record.

Here is a link to the county auditor site where readers can find contact information for the candidates. Do phone or send them an email with your questions. I hope you’ll follow my posts as we learn more about the community and the seven candidates who seek a position on the Solon Community School District board of directors.

My posts about the 2019 school board election are here.

Click here for all of my 2021 coverage of the Solon School Board Election.