Teachers’ union endorses board candidates

Teachers’ union endorses board candidates

Brenda Smith, president of the Douglas County Federation teachers union, speaks June 8 during contract negotiations at Douglas County High School. Photo by Courtney Kuhlen | ckuhlen@ourcoloradonews.com
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The Douglas County teachers’ union is endorsing school board candidates Barbra Chase, Bill Hodges, Julie Keim and Ronda Scholting in the November election.

The organization will not contribute money to candidates’ campaigns, union officials said, but will spend an undetermined amount of money on election-related activities.

“We did not do a formal process, and they did not seek our endorsement,” Douglas County Federation president Brenda Smith said. “But these are the ones we’re recommending to our teachers that will be good for kids and good for education in Douglas County.”

Union officials say more than 60 percent of the Douglas County School District’s teachers are voluntary members of the DCF, whose longstanding collective bargaining agreement with DCSD was severed in 2012.

Douglas County Republicans also endorsed four candidates from among several interviewed by their members. Their choices — incumbents Doug Benevento and Meghann Silverthorn, plus Jim Geddes and Judi Reynolds — are the candidates “most likely to support the principles of the Republican Party,” according to local party chairman Craig Steiner.

Steiner said the local party also will not contribute to its chosen candidates’ campaigns. He said he would not talk about the local party’s planned campaign expenditures.

All four of the union-supported candidates said the news came as a surprise.

“This campaign is about the direction of our schools and improving the quality of education for our students,” District E candidate Bill Hodges said in an emailed statement. “I welcome any organization’s support as my campaign has broad support from members of our community, business leaders and teachers."

“I did not seek the endorsement,” District G candidate Ronda Scholting said. “Generally candidates ask for endorsements, so I was unaware of any endorsement from the union. But I am happy to have the support of all members of the community.”

“I certainly did not pursue anything from them,” said District D candidate Julie Keim. “I appreciate their support from the perspective I really want to do the best thing for the students and taxpayers of Douglas County.”

Though the DCF doesn’t plan to contribute to campaigns, Keim added, “I don’t intend to take special-interest money from anyone. I don’t want any strings attached to the decisions I make.”

“I was not aware, nor did I request the support statement by the Union as I am running unaffiliated,” District B candidate Barbra Chase wrote in an email. “As the teachers’ association represents the majority of teachers in Douglas County schools, I graciously appreciate that I am backed and supported by the teachers.”

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