Prescott school board election sees mix of incumbents, candidates
Chino and Humboldt
In the Chino Valley Unified School District, four candidates are seeking three seats, two of them incumbents – Governing Board President Peter Atonna and member Sherry Brown – and two newcomers – Robert Bowen and Annie Mortensen.
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Humboldt Unified School District will not have an election because it has three candidates for three seats: Governing Board President Brian Letendre, incumbent Rick Adler and a new member Paul Ruwald.
In the Nov. 8 school board elections, the Prescott Unified School District has candidates and incumbents seeking board seats, with all of them expressing a desire to play a role in building enrollment, retaining faculty and staff, and offering the best academic and real world preparation to children.
Prescott has five candidates for three seats, with three incumbents – Governing Board President Scott Hicks and members Tina Seeley and John Mackin – and two running for the first time – Dwight Jaeger and David Klever.
Public funding for education and academic accountability and achievement are a focus for many voters in both the national and local elections, and these candidates all have pledged their willingness to remain part of the conversation and advocate for issues, ranging from proper funding to academic standards that promote rigor and student success.
Meet the candidates:
• Scott Hicks, 49, a local dentist who was born and raised in Prescott, is the school board president – in his first term that started in January 2013. He and his wife, Christina, have two children, both of whom are students in the district. He is seeking re-election because he wants to continue progress and add to the stability of a district that has experienced considerable change in the last few years: the closing of schools, reduction of staff, and reconfiguration. “We’re starting to turn a corner on everything in PUSD. Enrollment is starting to rise again,” Hicks said. “I want to continue to work for the kids because I think we can make a difference.”
• Dwight Jaeger, 73, is a retired engineer and 10-year resident of Prescott. In his first local run for elected office, he has a doctorate in mechanical engineering and in 1976 joined the Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory where he worked for 30 years. He served as a scientific advisor at the federal Department of Energy in Washington, D.C., and spent two years as a Department of Defense advisor. He served for 20 years on the board of New Mexico State University. He and his wife, Jolly, have two adult daughters and five grandchildren. “Education to me is a way of getting ahead in society, and I think everybody ought to have that,” he said. At New Mexico State, Jaeger said about one-third of the entering engineering students required remedial math, something he found unacceptable. He wants to promote academic excellence and support of quality teachers in this district.
• David Klever, 52, is a businessman, owner of Granite Mountain Computer Services LLC, and has lived in Prescott for 12 years with his wife, Anne, and their two sons both graduated from Prescott High. This is his first election. His interest in serving stems from his activism with the 2015 bond and override. He witnessed a similar effort fail three years prior, and opted to take an advocate role for the second one. He took the PUSD budget class to learn about district finances, and was disconcerted by what he considered a lack of engagement in these issues by the current board members. If elected, he said he would want to build support for local education within the community, particularly when it comes to proper funding by state lawmakers.
• John Mackin, 45, a youth minister with Young Life West Yavapai, is in his first term on the school board and has lived in Prescott for 19 years with his wife, Danielle, and their four children; all four are attending district schools. “It has been a wild four years,” he said. He feels the board has guided the district in the right direction, and for the first time in a decade it is seeing an increase in enrollment. He said is seeking re-election because he wants to be part of the growth and positive change he sees on the horizon “rather than cuts and sacrifice.”
• Tina Seeley, 47, owns National Realty, and is a veteran board member who first served on the board from 2009 to 2012 and was re-elected in 2013. She has lived in Prescott for 25 years, and she and her husband, John, have two daughters; one is a Prescott High graduate and one is still enrolled. In her eight years of elected service, Seeley said she has seen the district wrestle with some weighty issues, and she welcomes the opportunity to see the district flourish. “I think we’re doing a great job. We’ve started a lot of things in eight years … and I’m interested in maintaining the high standards and quality of PUSD.”