Candidates speak at forum

Kurt Blunt, Mindy Burke, Ed Coryell, Mary Strang and Marnell Bradfield, all candidates for three seats on the Meeker Board of Education, participated in a forum, sponsored by the Meeker Education Association and the school district’s accountability committee. Burke, Coryell and Strang are incumbents.
Kurt Blunt, Mindy Burke, Ed Coryell, Mary Strang and Marnell Bradfield, all candidates for three seats on the Meeker Board of Education, participated in a forum, sponsored by the Meeker Education Association and the school district’s accountability committee. Burke, Coryell and Strang are incumbents.

MEEKER I The Meeker Education Association and the Meeker School District’s accountability committee presented a forum for the five candidates on the Nov. 1 ballot for three available seats on the school board.
Dawn Hollenbeck and Kathleen Kelley introduced incumbents Mindy Burke, Ed Coryell and Mary Strang and challengers Kurt Blunt and Marnell Bradfield. Todd Morris petitioned to get on the ballot but withdrew his name.
Candidates each drew a number and made opening statements, were asked three prepared questions, answered a few questions from the audience, participated in roundtable discussions, then offered closing remarks.
The prepared questions candidates answered were: 1. What do you see as the top priorities for the school district and why? 2. The school district may be facing additional budgetary cuts. How will you ensure that opportunities for students will be enhanced when there are fewer resources available? 3. How do you see the role of a school board member in the administration of our district?
Blunt grew up in Montana, was graduated from Montana State, has a master’s degree in animal range science and is an environmental engineer at Colowyo Coal Company. He said has held many leadership roles.
“I think I can help make things better,” Blunt, who is married and has two sons, said. “I’m an open-minded person and I like to help.”
Coryell, who has been on the school board for more than 20 years, has put five kids and many foster kids through the Meeker school system. He currently has six grandchildren in the system, is a ranch owner and the state brand inspector.
“I have a few good years left to help the kids. I’m willing to say what I think, popular or not, and I know how it works,” Coryell said in his opening statement. “I’m willing to sit another four years if voters choose.”
Bradfield was graduated from Meeker High School, has two kids and has been involved in the school district since her son, who is now a cadet in the U.S. Air Force Academy, was in kindergarten. She is the director of risk management and respiratory care at Pioneers Medical Center.
“I believe in the Meeker school system and that it takes a village to raise a child; and the village includes teachers, staff and dedicated volunteers,” Bradfield said. “I want to continue the legacy of a great education in Meeker.”
Burke has been a school board member since 2006, is a certified substitute teacher, has been a middle school coach, is a volleyball official and has been involved in Build a Generation since 1998.
“I believe I can continue to make a difference for kids,” Burke, a probation officer said. “I’m straightforward and not afraid to speak.”
All the candidates agreed that providing the best possible education for our students and repairing the elementary school are the district’s main priorities but some had different ideas regarding budgetary solutions.
“Better efficiencies, not new taxes,” Bradfield said, referring to Proposition 103, the only issue on the state ballot. “We need to leverage our resources.”
“Change is inevitable,” Blunt said. “We need to team up with other entities.”
“I have full confidence in our staff,” Coryell said. “All we can do is provide the best education we can with what we have.”
“School finance has failed us,” Strang said. “The only way now is to establish a charitable trust, with the mission to underwrite student and staff needs. We also need to effect constitutional reform.”
“I’m hopeful Proposition 103 passes,” Burke said. “It’s just a Band-aid but it would prevent further cuts. I’m for partnering with the town, the rec. district and Pioneers Medical Center when school funds are lacking.”
All the candidates agreed the board’s duty is to set policy.
“Set policy, that’s all,” Coryell said. “We hire a superintendent and let the chain of command go from there.”
“We should not micromanage,” Burke said. “We need to allow the administration to do their job.”
“We need to be accountable to the community,” Bradfield said.
“We need to be progressive,” Burke said in her closing statement. “Please vote.”
“I hope you know me and know my qualifications,” Strang said. “It’s healthy for the community to have an election.”
“I’m willing to set another four years to help the little kids,” Coryell said. “Either way, I think the sun is going to come up tomorrow.”
“This has been a real learning experience for me,” Blunt said. “I’m willing to be an active participant and bring an outsider’s perspective to move in a positive direction.”
“I’m willing to do the homework and put in the time,” Bradfield said.