A Nonpartisan School Board

To run for school board a candidate submits a nominating petition with at least 50 district voters’ signatures on it to the school district office. There is no party affiliation and everyone so nominated is placed on the ballot. I heard on Thursday ballots have been finalized and sent to the printer.

I will analyze the nominating petition signatures when I receive them from the county. They are a public record available by paying a small fee. I won’t be sharing any secrets because nominating petitions aren’t secret.

For now, I have the voter profile for each of the seven candidates for Solon Community School District board of directors. They are Erika Billerbeck, Tim Brown, Dan Coons, Kelly Edmonds, Stacey Munson, Michael Neuerburg, and Cassie Rochholz.

There is a lot of information in these documents, which are also public records. For now, I’m most interested in party registration, the effective date when the candidate registered to vote, and in what recent school board elections they voted. I make no judgment about the candidates by posting this chart. It is data sent by the county, selected and formatted by me.

Data provided by the Johnson County Auditor

Electing someone to the school board is definitely not partisan. More than in other elections a voter seeks the best person for the job. While that seems like an antique idea in a society where everything is politicized, the best board members are not defined by party. Likewise, formal political parties have little influence over school boards.

During the 2019 Solon School Board election there were six candidates for two positions on the board. Three were Republicans, two no party, and one Democratic. Two Republicans won the election, Adam Haluska and Jami Wolf. The dynamic of the race was anti-incumbent because of recently completed collective bargaining between the district and the union. The negotiations drove some to run for school board. I spent as much time as anyone figuring out which candidates would meet my goals for board members. I ended up liking each of the six candidates for different reasons, none of which was party. Party membership played no role in my choice. My sense is it doesn’t for most people voting in a school board election.

Thus far I have spoken with one of the seven 2021 candidates. Like everyone, I’m learning. The dynamic of the election is complicated by the coronavirus pandemic. If the election is a referendum on the school district’s policies regarding COVID-19 and how those policies are implemented, I believe the election favors the two incumbents and another candidate who offers something compelling to voters, the way Jami Wolf did in 2019. It is possible the incumbents could lose the election yet they have broad name recognition within the district and have each been elected multiple times. A challenger will face a steep, difficult summit of the mountain that is incumbency.

Looking at school board candidates through a partisan lens is one factor among many. I don’t recommend making too much of the chart. Do look at it, though, and draw your own conclusions.

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 for school board.

All of my posts about the 2021 election can be found here.