Wednesday, May 20, 2009

School trustee vote is first in six years

Voters to decide if change in school board is needed

Express Staff Writer

For the first time in six years, voters went to the polls Tuesday to elect trustees to the Blaine County school board.

Up for grabs were the school district Zone 2 and Zone 4 trustee seats. Zone 2 includes south Hailey and rural areas west and south of the city while Zone 4 includes west Ketchum and areas north and south of the city on the west side of state Highway 75.

Incumbents Kim Nilsen, Zone 2, and board Chairwoman Alexandra Sundali, Zone 4, both had challengers. Nilsen was opposed by Steve Guthrie, co-president of the Wood River Middle School Parent Teacher Association, and attorney Jim Laski. Sundali was opposed by Paul Bates, vice president of the Wood River Middle School PTA.

The polls were open from noon until 8 p.m. Zone 2 voters cast ballots at Hailey Elementary School and Zone 4 voters cast theirs at Hemingway Elementary School in Ketchum.

Each voting place was staffed by two judges and a clerk who were sworn in and hired for the election by the school district. Ballots were counted by hand and then locked up and returned to the school district office, which announced the winners Tuesday evening.

In the case of Zone 2, where three candidates were running, a majority was not required and the candidate with the most votes was declared the winner.

Terms of office are for three years. Every third year, only one trustee position is up for election, while in other years two candidates are subject to re-election. The school district can cancel an election if only one candidate files for office.

Such has been the case for the past six years.

Board Clerk Laurie Kaufman said the last school board election was in 2003 when two candidates sought the Zone 2 post.

This year's school board election has received significant public attention. Candidate forums were held last week by the Idaho Mountain Express, the Blaine County Education Foundation and the Hailey Rotary Club.

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