Three candidates announced they intend to run for the seats targeted in the Jeffco Schools recall effort. Brad Rupert will run for the seat held by Julie Williams, Susan Harmon will run for the seat held by John Newkirk, and Ron Mitchell will run for the seat held by Ken Witt.
The three candidates are also Jeffco parents, some of current students and some of Jeffco graduates. They were recruited by a group of parent leaders looking for non-partisan candidates committed to working together, according to an Aug. 20 press release from Jeffco United for Action.
Rupert, the District 1 successor candidate, is best known for his work in the Arvada nonprofit community, where he has been involved with Habitat for Humanity, the Arvada Chamber of Commerce, the Arvada Community Food Bank and the Kiwanis Club of Arvada-Jefferson. In 2011, he received the Arvada Man of the Year Award. He also has a legal practice.
He said he is running for the seat because he is concerned the adversarial atmosphere and hostility the board seems to hold for teachers is causing great teachers to leave Jeffco. “Political agendas have no place on this school board,” he said. “We need to return our focus to providing an excellent education to every student every day.”
Harmon, the District 2 successor candidate, has been active in Jeffco schools since her oldest child started kindergarten. She has served on PTA, school accountability committees, the district calendar committee, and has been a vocal advocate for children with special needs. Harmon also has a family law practice.
Harmon said she is running because she is worried what the actions of the board majority mean for the future of Jeffco Schools. “My kids – all kids — deserve a world class education,” she explained. “I am running so I can share my passion, knowledge, and firsthand experience with all stakeholders and work collaboratively to make sure all kids have the opportunities my kids have had.”
Mitchell, the third successor candidate, is running for the District 5 seat. He is a life-long educator and Arvada High School graduate. His education career in Jeffco has taken him from teaching at Arvada West High School to serving as a principal at Alameda High School and later Columbine High School. Since retirement he has continued to return to help out at schools when needed.
He is running because he has grown increasingly frustrated with the actions of three members who constitute a majority. “The ideological behavior and poor leadership of this board majority has rippled through each of our schools, pushing teachers to leave the district and negatively impacting the learning experience for our kids.”
The three candidates are currently circulating petitions for a spot on the ballot. They must collect 50 valid signatures from registered Jeffco voters in order to appear on the ballot. A fourth candidate, former Jeffco School Board member Paula Noonan, also announced her candidacy for the District 5 seat currently held by Witt this week. Noonan served on the school board from 2009 to 2013 but did not run for a second term in 2013.
Three other candidates are also vying for the two other Jeffco School Board seats on the November ballot. Ali Lasell and Kim Johnson are running for the District 3 seat currently held by Lesley Dahlkemper. Amanda Stevens is running for the District 4 seat is held by Jill Fellman. Both Dahlkemper and Fellman announced earlier that they would not run again for those seats.
The recall process is currently in a 15-day waiting period in which any Jeffco resident can file a legal challenge to the signatures. Witt and Newkirk said they do not intend to file a challenge. Witt, Newkirk and Williams were elected in November 2013.