In less than two weeks, the Mountain Home community has a unique chance to learn firsthand the goals and aspirations of a handful of people running for seats in the Mountain Home School District's upcoming election. The April 20 political forum is the one time these individuals will gather as they listen to the questions and concerns from members of this community.
It'll be interesting to hear how the candidates running for these trustee seats will answer what I expect will be a large number of questions from the public.
In May, two of the trustee seats on the school board will face direct challenges. Another seat that was up for election remains uncontested, meaning the candidate in that race was automatically declared the winner.
As of Monday, there were only two write-in candidates across the county that submitted their requests to run for school board seats, although neither of them involved the Mountain Home School District. One write-in candidate will challenge a seat in the Glenns Ferry School District with three trustee seats in that city now being contested.
The other write-in candidate involves the Prairie Elementary School District in which no one else had filed the first time around. That automatically makes that write-in candidate the winner with the county elections office already cancelling that election.
The trustee races in Mountain Home promise to be one where a number of people will want to get involved. Based on the feedback from those who regularly comment on the newspaper's website, it's clear that there are some in this community who feel the school district needs to improve.
Some of these same people feel the school system here needs a lot of improvement.
However, I need to emphasize that those comments only represent a tiny fraction of the total number of eligible voters in this community. In fact, the number of comments posted on the newspaper's website regarding our schools come from less than a dozen individuals -- less than a thousandth of a percent of the town's total population.
This is why it's so important for others in this community to do their own research and make up their own minds when it comes to the upcoming election. The upcoming political forum is the best way for them to decide.
I expect the biggest question raised during that debate will deal directly with the district's proposed plant facility levy. With an estimated $5 million price tag attached to it, the levy represents a significant step toward making much-needed repairs to the roof at Hacker Middle School in addition to addressing issues in the other schools.
If a candidate doesn't support this levy, I'd sure love to know how they plan to address all of the major issues affecting the school buildings.
When members of the public do show up for the forum, I hope they come there with an open mind. Too often, I've seen instances where people have already decided to vote one way or another before they've even talked to the candidates in question.
This is why the political process tends to fail. In many cases, people have convinced themselves that they need to vote a certain way due to a candidate's political leaning or that their opponent doesn't fully support a particular issue. I've also lost count how many times I've heard people say they plan to vote for a specific candidate because they are either Republican or Democrat, although I don't think that applies in this school election.
At the same time, I also hope there are far more people that take time out of their schedule to actually vote in these races.
When I first joined the newspaper back in 2009, one of the first major stories I covered involved a trustee seat on the Mountain Home school board that ended in a tie. It took the toss of a coin to decide the outcome of that race.
I still remember all of the angry comments where people couldn't believe that fate decided the outcome of that election. However, when you have just 88 people actually turn out and vote, it meant that so many others failed to take time to cast a ballot.
Had there been more voters in that race, I seriously doubt it would've ended in a tie.
According to the Elmore County elections office, there are nearly 1,100 registered voters in trustee zone three. There are nearly twice as many registered voters in trustee zone five.
I just hope most of them choose to vote this time around. If they don't, they really don't have a right to complain.
-- Brian S. Orban