ENID, Okla. — Garfield County voters will get to decide races in over half of the school boards with seats up for election next week.
Cimarron district voters also will vote on a public transportation school bond issue, and Billings Public Schools will decide on two propositions, totaling nearly $1 million — one for transportation vehicles and another for various building and facility improvements — according to the county election board.
Eight of the 11 school districts with seats up for election Tuesday will be races between two candidates. Early voting starts Thursday, said Michael Frisbie, Garfield County Election Board secretary.
If not an incumbent, many candidates are first-timers who decided this is the year they wanted to “give back” after spending years in their school communities.
All races will be districtwide, not limited to voters living within office wards.
Enid Public Schools
Enid Public Schools patrons will vote to fill two seats on the board of education: Offices 1 and 6.
Both incumbents are running to hold their positions. Board President Matt Sampson, Office 1, and Kyle Whitehead, Office 6, both were appointed to their seats before later running for the positions the next election.
Sampson and Whitehead sat on the board when EPS voters in 2016 passed the nearly $100 million bond issue that financed new facilities and program throughout the district.
Sampson is running against longtime educator and advocate Rhonda Harlow, while Whitehead, who owns Evans Pharmacy, is running against Chad McDaniel, a manager at Family Pharmacy.
Chisholm Public Schools
Both of Chisholm Public Schools’ school board Office 1 candidates are physicians with children in Enid’s smaller school system.
Dr. Dustin Baylor said he’s interested in expanding the district’s extra-curricular programs. Dr. Todd Reilly has said he prioritizes preparing students for post-secondary STEM learning and other programs that may have fallen behind.
Cimarron Public Schools
Cassie Coker-Paden and Gaylon Brakhage will vie for Office 1 on the Cimarron Public Schools board. The voters in that district also will determine the fate of a $400,000 public transportation proposition.
Covington-Douglas Public Schools
First-time candidate Laura J. Neel, who lives with her three children in Covington, decided to run for Office 1 of the Covington-Douglas Public Schools after several others said she should.
Her opponent, current board member Kathy Grantz, would continue representing the town of Covington if elected to a third five-year term.
Grantz said the board is overseeing a construction project to remodel the entryway of the school and hopes to go into another after.
Kremlin-Hillsdale Public Schools
Kremlin-Hillsdale Schools candidate Jason Aebi, a firefighter at Vance Air Force Base, said he also was approached about volunteering to serve after living in the district for seven years.
Both Aebi and fellow K-H candidate Matt LeCrone have children in the school district, which just recently passed a $2 million school bond issue. This issue will help fund a new technology and agriculture program, improvements to athletic fields and building of a recreation and athletic practice facility.
A service manager at the farming equipment company F.W. Zaloudek in Kremlin, LeCrone said he’d be willing to answer funding questions posed by the many customers he already talks with every day.
“And I feel like the school board has a big impact on that,” he said Wednesday, having been unable to be reached for comment back in January. “Anything you can do to help kids is great.”
Waukomis Public Schools
Waukomis Public Schools also passed a $7.4 million bond issue, though much more narrowly — due to a 60% required supermajority, the measure would’ve failed on Feb. 9 if one of the final 189 yes votes had been against, instead of in favor.
School patrons had failed a similar proposal two years ago.
The bulk of the bond issue — about 90% — will go toward construction of a new elementary school and adjoining cafeteria and kitchen.
Board President Brett Perry will seek a second five-year term in this time of success for the district, against challenger Ryan Felder, a firefighter for Enid Fire Department with a background in education.
In January, Garber Public Schools’ incumbent board member, Lacey Jo Deeds, said her district, was “in the best shape we’ve ever been in.”
Deeds is running for a fourth term for Office 1 against her former brother-in-law, Michael Deeds, though the latter said the decision to run against the former was not a personal decision.
The two have both lived in the Garber community for decades, with both being members of 4-H. Michael is a farmer, welder and volunteer firefighter; Lacey Jo is a program technician for Garfield County Farm Service Agency and owner of the Garber-Billings News.
Timberlake Public Schools
Timberlake Public Schools also has an election for Office No. 1, with Logan Judd and Stacia Gaff both vying for the position.
Incumbents who did not draw an opponent during the December filing period were:
• Autry Technology Center Office 4, Carmen Ball.
• Drummond Public Schools Office 1, Curtis Mack.
• Pioneer-Pleasant Vale Office 5, Michael J. Koehl.