Payson School Board Hopes For ‘Good Mix’ Of New Members

Underwood returns with newcomers Quinlan, Dye, but ballots still uncounted

Barbara Underwood

Barbara Underwood Photo by Andy Towle. |

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Rim Country voters handily reelected school board incumbent Barbara Underwood.

They then filled the two other open seats with former Payson High School English teacher Jim Quinlan and political activist and grandmother Shirley Dye, although uncounted provisional ballots could upend the results next week.

Underwood had anxiously awaited the results on election night, but her worry proved unnecessary.

“I was pleasantly surprised that they (the voters) want me to continue,” said Underwood. “I will continue to keep the kids No. 1 in every decision I make.”

“I guess I was nervous because there were nine candidates,” she said.

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“But why can’t we just say no more than ‘6 inches above the knee?’” Shirley Dye Payson school board

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James Quinlan

She looks forward to offering consistency. She said after these last four years she finally understands the numerous laws and limitations of the job. And with her long history with the district, she knows how to fill any gaps.

“The board needs that stability,” said Underwood. “With Ron (Hitchcock) being a new superintendent, he doesn’t know all of the history.”

Underwood noted that Quinlan also offers a long-term perspective.

Quinlan said he believes his 37 years in the district have prepared him for this job, yet he keeps it in context.

Friends and family have offered him congratulations — and condolences he said, tongue in cheek, but also seriously.

“A friend reminded me of Mark Twain’s quote, ‘God made the Idiot for practice, and then He made the School Board.’ That (quote) keeps it all in perspective,” said Quinlan.

He does not take the responsibility the voters have given him lightly.

“I know this is not an easy job,” he said.

Quinlan said he will represent the beleaguered teachers in the district. He still has many friends and family working at the schools and he hopes to speak for them.

Only 214 votes separate Dye from the fourth-place candidate, social studies teacher Ron Silverman. With more than 3,000 early and provisional ballots left to count county-wide, Tuesday’s tally could change over the weeks.

But as of Tuesday night, Dye has a place on the board.

The Tea Party secretary said she is in shock over likely making it onto two boards.

Dye also ran for the Northern Gila County Sanitary District board and placed in the top three, with three open seats. She has years of experience working in the sanitation industry and looks forward to offering her expertise. She campaigned for that board mostly on a platform critical of the district’s impact fees for new customers.

In spite of the remaining uncounted ballots, both Underwood and sitting school board member Rory Huff called Dye the morning after the election to congratulate and welcome her to the board.

Dye said she is anxious to help the school district. But Huff warned her, “You will be amazed how tightly your hands are tied,” she said.

Unlike the other board members, Dye has no experience in education, nor does she have grandchildren in the district. However, she wants to raise enrollment, work with the Legislature and bring a new perspective to the board.

“I want to help them bring attention to other points of view,” she said. Dye is already rearranging her schedule to make all of the remaining school board meetings, even though the new board members will not officially start until January.

Overall, Underwood, is pleased. “I think it’s going to be a good mix,” said Underwood, “Everybody brings a good aspect.”

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