New School Board Member Named

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Retired Whiteriver police chief Kim Jeffrey Pound will fill the last vacancy on the Payson Unified School District board, county schools chief Linda O’Dell announced Wednesday.

“I think that Kim will be a great addition to the board,” said O’Dell, adding that “we were very, very lucky,” since three “good” candidates applied for the spot.

Darsha Oestmann, who lost in November’s election, and Joanne Conlin, active on school override campaigns, also filled out applications.

O’Dell said she looks forward to Pound “bringing a different perspective.” He fills the vacancy left by member Richard Meyer’s resignation earlier this year, and will serve the

remainder of a term that lasts until December 2012. After the term, he could run for re-election.

In November’s election, incumbent Rory Huff and newcomer Barbara Shepherd won seats. Shepherd takes the place of Viki Holmes, who didn’t run.

O’Dell will swear-in Pound at the Dec. 13 board meeting.

Pound’s swift appointment came at the urging of the school board, who wanted the new member chosen in time for December’s statewide school board conference.

O’Dell opted to wait until after the election to appoint Meyer’s replacement, and she later announced an application period that lasted just more than one week. It ended on a Monday, and O’Dell’s team interviewed candidates and announced the victor two days later.

The school board had voted to recommend that O’Dell pick the losing candidate in November’s election.

O’Dell said of Pound, “He was the best choice for the position at this time.”

Pound, 56, ran for Gila County sheriff in 2004 and has lived in Payson since 2000.

“I really want to bring some fiscal responsibility,” he said, although, “I’m not saying the board doesn’t have it.”

However, times are tough and cuts will likely come. Pound said board prioritization will be key moving forward, but didn’t offer specifics. He said he wanted to take office first and and learn about the district, its budget and other board members.

“I want to listen to the community members because it is their district,” Pound added.

“The school board is only the keeper of the keys. The keys belong to the community.”

Pound added, “The people are our boss.”

Asked if the current board is transparent in providing the public with information, Pound said, “I really don’t want to comment on that, but I know that I’m going to be transparent.”

O’Dell said in a press release that Pound listed an open mind and good listening skills as important board member attributes.

A board should work as a team, “setting egos aside, compromising, and perhaps conceding your position,” Pound said according to O’Dell’s release.

“Good schooling is foundational to success in life,” he added in the release.

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