Filing deadline finds two incumbents sitting out race for School Board
At least two new members will be elected to the Lansing School Board in the April 5 elections.
Six candidates will be on the ballot. Five of them, including incumbent Stuart Lyon, will battle for three open seats; the other, incumbent Karalin Alsdurf, is running uncontested to fill an unexpired term. Alsdurf filed Monday, a day before Tuesday's deadline.
Board members Keith Rickard and Jack Kochenour, whose seats were up for election, decided against seeking re-election.
Two nonincumbents, Dr. Gary Courtney, a dentist with a practice in Leavenworth, and Mike Nielsen, a Realtor, also filed within the past week for the open seats.
Courtney, a Lansing resident since January 1992, has two children in the district, fourth-grader Bryan and kindergartner Bethanie.
Courtney said he was interested in running because his children attend Lansing schools and because he wanted to continue the school district's good work. He also said that with several teachers close to retirement, he wanted to help make the district look more attractive for future teachers.
"I'd like to be able to bring up some new ideas," Courtney said. "The school bond issue's coming up and I was interested in that. I'd like to see the elementary building somewhere else, away from all the traffic."
Courtney does not currently hold any other positions in the community but is a former member of the Bonner Springs Chamber of Commerce.
Mike Nielsen, father of two district students, said community service was important to him.
"I want to give back a little bit to the community," Nielsen said of his reasons for running.
Nielsen said he did not have any complaints for the current board but would like to "be part of the planning process and modernization."
He said he thought the district was going in the right direction as far as planning for the future went and that he was excited about the possibility of an exchange program with China.
Nielsen officially retired from the United States Army on Jan. 1. While on active status, Nielsen wasn't allowed to hold an elected office. The school board seat is the first office he's sought since military retirement.
Nielsen, who now is a Realtor with Coldwell Banker Reilly & Sons Realtors, is the father of two children, Michael Jr., a sophomore at Lansing High School, and Sarah, a seventh-grader at Lansing Middle School.
He is a member of the Leavenworth Veterans of Foreign Wars.
Beth Stevenson and Robert Nicholas previously had filed.
Stevenson said involvement with school district was a cause close to her heart. She is the mother of six boys, four of whom are still in Lansing schools.
Former Lansing schoolteacher Nicholas said he was running because he felt "one of the best investments that we can make in our community is to ensure that we maintain the highest quality public schools."
Lyon, who has served one term already, said he was interested in seeing the bond process carried out. He said he had enjoyed his time serving the district and would like to use his experience to serve the community for another term.
Lyon is the father of six, five of whom have already gone through the Lansing district. His youngest is a sophomore at Lansing High School.
He said the action he was most proud of in his time on the board was the hiring of Randal Bagby as school superintendent. Lyon said Bagby brought a lot of energy and a fresh outlook. Looking to the future Lyon said he thought the school bond issue ranked high on the list of items for the board to pursue.
"The big job for the board to finish is to communicate (bond) information to the voters so that they will hopefully agree with us about the great need to pass the bond," Lyon said. "Beyond that we need to continue to find good teachers will be a challenge. And then maintain the momentum of the current programs."
Alsdurf, the other incumbent who filed, is the only person to have filed for the unexpired position. She was appointed to the board in August 2004 when her predecessor, Michelle Fattig-Smith, moved out of the district. A condition of the midterm appointment was that the seat, with a term that doesn't expire until 2007, would be put up for election in 2005.