Non-partisan no longer: School District 51 board member election race is highly political

Local News

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo.

Campaign signs quietly blow in the wind as the election approaches, but party endorsements from the left and the right are making waves in what should be a non-partisan school board race. Chairman, Kevin McCarney, for the Mesa County Republicans says, “We sought to even things up. No matter what anybody says, all politics are partisan. It’s as simple as that.” Scott Beilfuss with the Mesa County Democrats says, “The far right has gone after school board elections all over the country. So, it wasn’t really a surprise the republicans endorsed three candidates in like July.”

Both parties have endorsed candidates. Beilfuss says Mesa County Democrats sent out a newsletter last Monday, October 11 recommending Mahre, Allan, and Combs lacking monetary donations, but the Republicans endorsed Haitz, Lema and Jones way before that.

“Some of the contention is that these candidates were endorsed before knowing what they stand for, or what their platform is. Is that true, and why,” asks Reporter, Rob Hagan. “We had,” answers McCarney. “One of my board members sent out an email early before we had our forum. We took it back and had our forum, and then we endorsed the candidates and gave them money.”

Part of the decision stemmed from a school board meeting back in August 17, when parents protested potential mask mandates. McCarney says school leaders get plenty of support, but parents rarely get a voice, and at that meeting tempers flared forcing the board to take a break, but when break time was over the anger wasn’t forcing the board to finish the meeting online. “And, for them to treat the parents the way they did in August, there shouldn’t be a member of that school board left,” said McCarney.

Beilfuss says a school board member should be qualified to direct staff and help teach our future leaders, but one of the Republican’s candidates works at a strip club. How is he a credible and qualified person to be endorsed to run for school board if he’s working at a strip club, asks Hagan. “He’s a security guard at a strip club,” said McCarney. Beilfuss says, “If a school board member can work there, can teachers work there?” McCarney also says, “He does that to put food on the table for his family, and I’m never going to criticize anybody who works for a living putting food on the table for their family.”

KREX 5 and FOX 4 will keep following the school board election race.

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