Crowded field in Grenora school board election

Grenora School District Business Manager Jennifer McNamara has never seen so many candidates.

“Oh, yes. It’s the biggest,” said McNamara, who oversaw her first election in 2003. “We have staggered terms, so there’s an election every year. This is the biggest number.”

Election day, June 11, features eight candidates competing to win one of three seats from two different areas of the school district.

Area #2

In the Divide County portion of the district, four people are vying for a single three-year term.

Incumbent Rick Foss is being challenged by Brandee Hanson, Jennifer Hennager, and Tamara Ledahl.

“They’re all my neighbors,” said Foss, who was first elected to office in 1995.

“I’m proud of our district. I’ve really enjoyed it (being a board member),” he said.

“I don’t have anything against Rick,” Hanson, a life-long resident of the district said. “I didn’t even know for sure he was running again. He’s done a good job, but I think it’s time for some new blood.”

Area #3

Area 3, in Williams County, excludes the city of Grenora. Two candidates will be elected from a field of four for threeyear terms.

Current board member Brent Peterson is seeking re-election. Robert Field, first elected in 2003, is not.

Challengers are Burton Lowes, Mitch Lundby, and Jeremy Wright.

“I’d like to be able to help the district out through a tough time,” Lundby said, referring to the recent removal of now former superintendent Troy Walters over credit card use and other issues.

“Clearly, we’re getting a new superintendent, there’s going to be a transition, and I’d like to be able to help out with that.”

McNamara said it’s not surprising the issue drew out more than the usual number of candidates.

“I’m sure that’s part of it,” said McNamara.

Foss is, too.

“I’ve usually run unopposed,” he said.

Hanson said she sided with Walters in his dispute with the board, in part, because written policies are needed.

“There needs to be some accountability for the board, too,” said Hanson.

Another factor, according to McNamara, is the general attitude of residents toward the school system.

“It’s really a big deal here,” said McNamara. “People really care about it.”

“I think it’s a good thing so many people are stepping up,” Lundby said. “I remember when we moved back here about 10 years ago, it was hard to find people to serve on boards.”

Foss, whose grandchildren are now the fourth generation of his family attending school in Grenora, agrees.

“There’s more people in the community now,” said Foss. “It’s nice to see them wanting to get involved.”

The Journal made attempts over the past two weeks to contact all of the candidates about their decision to run.

Voter turnout

While McNamara said she expects election day turn out to be heavier than usual, she’s also been busy with absentee ballots.

“I get requests every day,” Mc- Namara said. “I’ve already had more than 30 completed ballots returned in their envelopes, and I’ve had walk-ins, too.”

Those voters are given the opportunity to fill out their ballots in a separate room from McNamara’s office, then hand in their ballots in a sealed envelope.

Absentee ballots aren’t opened until the rest of votes are tallied once the polls close on June 11.

Voting takes place at the Grenora Senior Citizens Center. Polling hours are 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

“I’m just about ready,” McNamara said of her final preparations. “I still need poll workers.”

Lundby said whatever the election results bring, he’s confident all the candidates have the best of intentions.

“It’s about moving forward,” he said. “Because these decisions we make going forward affect everybody in the community, especially our kids.”

Election results will be certified by the present school board during a special meeting on June 17.

In regard to hiring a new superintendent, McNamara said “multiple applications have been received.”

The application deadline was May 21.

McNamara said the school board is just about finished with its initial screening process, and plans personal interviews with the top three applicants.

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