School board candidates talk tough, have fun during political forum |

School board candidates talk tough, have fun during political forum

Terri Harber
Appeal Staff Writer

Teasing, extreme enthusiasm and occasional groans when a certain topic came up yet again brought lively moments to a political forum Thursday featuring people seeking seats on the Carson City School District Board of Trustees.

The six candidates gave brief opening statements before answering questions provided by audience members at the Brewery Arts Center.

When the candidates were asked whether they supported the district’s $25 million bond to build, repair and maintain school buildings, District 4 candidate Robert Crowell said the bond was so important that he gave all his campaign donations to the bond fund.

“It’s more important than my election,” the incumbent said, though he later said public education is his “passion.”

Challenger Ann Bednarski was frustrated after attending a school board meeting that focused on the deficiencies of portable classrooms then, just days later, found out the district planned to buy more of them. She believes there might be alternatives that haven’t been explored.

“The price tag is exorbitant,” she said.

The No Child Left Behind Act was chosen twice as a topic: Once in tandem with how the district should best serve Gifted and Talented Students, and again in what was good and bad about it.

“It’s like beating a dead horse,” said Barbara Howe, who seeks the District 6 seat, about the federal academic requirements. “I don’t like it, but it’s a federal mandate.”

A registered dietitian who frequently works with schools, she said she believes all children would do better in school if they are eating healthfully and exercising.

She is challenging Jeff Fontaine, who was appointed to the seat this year.

The intent of the mandate is “fundamentally good,” but schools lack adequate funds to implement it properly, he said.

As the candidates were making closing remarks, District 3 candidate James Hukari pulled out the children’s book “Chicken Little.”

“I found Joe (Enge’s) campaign manual,” he said.

Hukari then said that his opponent took a negative view, a “sky is falling” approach with his campaigning that just wasn’t true about public education or the efforts of the Carson City schools.

Enge had his chance to answer the charge when he illustrated the frustration parents feel by telling a story about a mother who couldn’t believe her daughter needed to take remedial courses at the University of Nevada, Reno after earning A’s and B’s.

“How is that happening?” Enge asked.

He’s not being negative, but “peeling back the curtain to see the wizard,” he countered.

The event was hosted by the Northern Nevada League of Women Voters and co-sponsored by the Nevada Appeal. It was videotaped and will be shown on cable access channel 26.

• Contact reporter Terri Harber at tharber or 882-2111, ext. 215.