Ten people have taken out paperwork to fill seven board seats throughout school districts in Rim Country — despite the difficult financial woes of schools and agonizing decisions facing board members as budgets shrink.
Payson’s school board race looks to be one of the most contentious with six people taking out paperwork for three available seats.
The six are: Jerold Rutz, Devin Wala, Ron Silverman, Carmelita Locke, Barbara Underwood, Shirley Dye and Lynnette Brouwer.
Underwood, the only incumbent to run, currently sits as the president of the board.
Wala has children in school and founded, along with other parents, the group Payson Association for Advanced Learners (PAAL).
Brouwer also has children in the school and volunteers for the schools.
Ron Silverman was a Payson High School social studies teacher last year but fell prey to the downsizing of teaching staff at the end of the year. He protested the layoff, saying he was let go because he had such high classroom standards that many students either failed or transferred out of his classes.
Locke retired from teaching elementary school in Payson two years ago.
Dye is an activist in the local Tea Party.
Rutz is the only candidate to have all of his paperwork filled in, including the 70 signatures necessary to run for office. He has lived in Payson for three years, after retiring from teaching for 25 years in the Scottsdale district. He also taught math courses in the Maricopa Community College District.
“I have the time, energy and expertise and I don’t want to let that go to waste,” said Rutz of his interest in running for the Payson School Board.
In the Pine-Strawberry district, only two people have taken out paperwork, although three seats remain open.
Jessica Barret and Margaret Parker, both former Pine-Strawberry School Board members, will try again to qualify for the ballot.
In Tonto Basin, Burt Cheney III and Dorothy France will compete for a single, open seat.
Cheney served as a local DPS officer. His wife currently works as the superintendent and principal of the Young school district.
France has a child in school. Her husband works as a Gila County sheriff’s deputy.
According to Margie Velasquez with the Gila County Superintendent of Schools, candidates for the school board have until Aug. 8 at 5 p.m. to deliver all election paperwork to the superintendent’s office.
“Paperwork may be taken out up to Aug. 8, but all signatures and filing information must be turned in by 5 p.m. that day,” said Velasquez.
Until that time, more details on the candidates will not be known.