News of Riverton, Lander and Fremont County, Wyoming, from the Ranger's award winning journalists.
Sep 13, 2012 - By Steven R. Peck
With other school board ballots full to bursting, Riverton's incumbents drew no challengers at all
Everyone must be pretty well pleased with the way the Riverton school board is being run, or at least not displeased enough to want to do anything to change it.
There are four seats on the seven-member Fremont County School District 25 board up for election this year, and that's exactly how many candidates there are -- four. All four incumbents are seeking re-election, and no one is challenging them.
That in itself is a bit astonishing because school boards often spark lively competition. Some may remember the successful "Four for Education" group that unseated a handful of incumbents some years ago when the four ran as a unit and all won.
This year, there was a resignation in mid-term. Several good candidates filed their statements of interest for being appointed to the post, and the board chose one, Lynette Jeffres, and swore her in a few weeks ago. At the time it was assumed that one or more of the candidates who had been passed over would file to run for the job in the general election, but that didn't happen.
So we're left with a sure thing in November. Four seats, four candidates, case closed. Congratulate Jeffres, Carl Manning (our Ranger work colleague), Dean Peranteaux and Glenn Ogg. They're in.
The Riverton scenario contrasts sharply with the elections coming up in other school districts across Fremont County, and we've got a lot of school districts here. School District 1 in Lander has two seats open and three candidates running. In District 2, Dubois, four candidates are vying to fill three school board openings.
The competition is stiffer in Shoshoni (District 24), where there are three available school board seats and five candidates running. The ballot gets steeper than that in School District 6 (Wind River). Five candidates are running for the school board, with just two seats open.
Central Wyoming College elects candidates from districts, but everyone in the county gets to vote for them (that's the way we ought to do it for the Fremont County Commission, too, but that's a topic for a different day), and the distribution of candidates is mixed. In one, the incumbent, Judy Pedersen, faces three challengers.
The biggies are in School District 21 (Fort Washakie), which has a lot of open board seats -- four -- and a lot of candidates running -- eight. And by far the liveliest school board ballot in Fremont County is in School District 38 at Arapahoe. Three open seats, 11 candidates.
These comparisons make the Riverton situation all the more remarkable. There are self-proclaimed experts on public education everywhere you look. We all went to school, so why shouldn't we also be authorities on how to run a school district. Beyond that, there almost always are gripes and grievances, both old and new, that spur people to run for school boards. They want to get a new class added to the curriculum, or the water polo coach fired, or make sure the marching kazoo orchestra gets to go on a trip, or some such personal agenda item that they feel can be satisfied once they get elected.
So, when the trustees of the biggest school district in the county face zero opposition at election time, it's not unfair to suggest that they are doing a good job -- meaning good management of the money, clear communication of policy, effective hiring, good decisions on facilities, and satisfactory communication with patrons -- so good, in fact, that nobody wanted to mount an election challenge against any of them
If that's the case, then congratulations to the District 25 board members. Keep up the good work. And remember, the next election is just two years away, with enough voters and prospective candidates out there to make things interesting again in a heartbeat.