Deadline to file to run for SD2 school board approaching

2013-03-06T18:30:00Z 2013-03-07T05:26:03Z Deadline to file to run for SD2 school board approachingBy ROB ROGERS rrogers@billingsgazette.com The Billings Gazette

Three seats on the School District 2 board are up for grabs on May 7, and applications to run in the election are due at the end of the month. 

The seats are held by trustees Greta Besch Moen, Lindy Graves and Connie Wardell.

All three have filed for re-election and are the only candidates. The deadline to file is March 28. 

Bret Rutherford, the elections administrator for Yellowstone County, explained that many candidates file right on deadline. He recommends against doing that. 

"Don't wait until the last day to do it," he said. 

Potential candidates looking to run for school board are required to gather 20 signatures from registered voters living within the zone they hope to represent. 

Candidates also are required to have lived for at least one year within the zone they want to represent. 

Invariably, the election office ends up disqualifying some of the signatures candidates bring in, either because a signer has moved, let the registration lapse or simply never registered to vote, Rutherford said.

"We always recommend you get more" than 20 signatures, he said. 

In play this election is Zone 3, which covers the half of the Heights west of Main Street and is represented by Besch Moen.

Zone 5 is also up, which covers the neighborhoods on either side of 24th Street West between Colton Boulevard and King Avenue West and is represented by Graves.

Finally, Zone 7 is in play, which comprises roughly of the neighborhoods north of King Avenue West and west of Zimmerman Trail and is represented by Wardell.

There's no filing fee to run for the board, because trustees receive no pay for serving, Rutherford said.

He expects turnout this year to be lighter than it was last May. In the spring of 2012, SD2 had five levies and two federal bonds on the ballot, along with three trustee races, two of which were contested.

"Traditionally, (trustee races) are uncontested," Rutherford said. 

That may be changing and this year may see more candidates file. The district is in the midst of creating a facilities master plan that's called for major changes to how the district aligns its elementary and middle schools and recommends massive construction projects. 

The plan, the first of its kind for SD2, has brought plenty of attention of the district and pushed some in the community to consider possibly running for the board. 

In late January, the Billings Chamber of Commerce held a workshop it dubbed School Board Candidate School as a way to educate community members on what it takes to run and serve on a school board.

Nearly two dozen people showed up.

Rutherford understands that school board service isn't as attractive as serving in other political offices. 

"I think they get a lot of grief," he said of trustees. "So my hat's off to the people willing to serve."

Candidate forms are available at the county election office or online at co.yellowstone.mt.gov/elections.

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