Three candidates file for 2 seats on the School Board

Margo Waring, Sean O'Brien and Mike Ford compete for spots

Posted: Friday, August 26, 2005

Three Juneau residents filed for the two vacant School Board seats by the Thursday afternoon deadline for the Oct. 4 municipal election.

Current School Board members Robert Van Slyke and Rhonda Befort have decided to forego re-election, making it a three-way race between Margo Waring, Sean O'Brien and Mike Ford.

Candidates for the School Board do not run for a specific seat. The candidates receiving the highest number of votes will be elected to the vacant seats.

Van Slyke said he had all the paperwork ready to go and would have filed for re-election if only two people had sought the vacant seats.

"I'm 75 years old and there's other things I want to do," he said.

Befort said she has two small children and needs to focus on her family. She said she may seek re-election when her children are older.

Waring was the first to file as a candidate for the School Board for the October election. A 30-year resident of Juneau, Waring said she has been an active school volunteer and advocate for 15 years. She said this is her first time running for public office.

"People have been urging me to do it for some time and I gave it a lot of thought and decided to (file)," she said.

Waring is retired from the state of Alaska, where she worked as a planner and program manager for the Department of Health and Social Services. She now has a part-time consulting business.

Waring said one of her main platforms is to address the dropout rates in the district.

"I'm concerned about the programming and the quality of the educational experience for the students," Waring said.

She has a son who graduated from Juneau-Douglas High School in 2004.

O'Brien, a lifelong Juneau resident, was certified Thursday afternoon to run for the School Board.

O'Brien is a program coordinator for the state Division of Vocational Rehabilitation. He said he runs a variety of special programs to help people with disabilities go to work.

He has been on the site councils at Riverbend Elementary School and Floyd Dryden Middle School and is a longtime parent volunteer in the schools, he said.

O'Brien said he was planning on running for School Board in the future but due to the "critical nature of the timing with issues" he was driven to seek election this October. He said his children were also a major factor for filing.

"I guess it's born out of the need to serve the community ... not only for my three children who are still in school, but hopefully for a lot of other children in our community,"

O'Brien also has two grown children who graduated from JDHS.

Mike Ford, a 32-year Juneau resident, submitted his paperwork in the final hour before the filing deadline on Thursday. He said he has considered running for School Board for a number of years.

Ford is an attorney for the nonprofit Alaska Native Health Board. He worked as an education attorney for the Alaska Legislature for 20 years, where he wrote a number of education laws, he said.

As a member of the Harborview Elementary School Site Council, Ford said running for the School Board was the "next logical step in the process." He has a daughter attending Harborview.

"I'd be more than happy to give something back to the community," Ford said. "I feel like this is an opportunity to give something back to a place that has been very good to me."

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