Three new faces, and one familiar one, will round out the Douglas County School Board, tasked with important financial decisions along with the …
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Three new faces, and one familiar one, will round out the
Douglas County School Board, tasked with important financial
decisions along with the responsibility of hiring a new
After more than 45,000 mail-in ballots were calculated at the
Douglas County election headquarters Nov. 3, it was clear that Doug
Benevento, Meghann Silverthorn and Dan Gerken will be the newcomers
to the board. Incumbent John Carson will continue serving the
parents, students, community and facility of Douglas County.
Gerken entertained the newly elected candidates at his home,
Nov. 3, along with more than 50 friends and supporters. Carson got
word of his victory via phone while he sat in the school board
meeting that was currently in session.
“I thought it would be closer, now we have to fulfill our
commitments,” Carson said. “We gave the voters a clear choice, and
the turnout was huge.
“It is great to get people energized, great for the system.”
Wendy Holmes, public information officer for Douglas County,
said the voter turn-out this year was almost double from two years
ago, with only one issue on the ballot this year.
The Douglas County Republicans and elected officials formed a
committee in the spring to “recruit conservative candidates for the
upcoming Douglas County School Board election” and chose Benevento,
Silverthorn, Gerken and Carson.
The Douglas County Federation of Teachers chose to endorse Emily
Hansen, Sue Catterall, Keving Leung and Kristine Turner because of
“their genuine interest in the growth and success of Douglas County
schools and students”.
Silverthorn, serving District G, works for Lockheed in the
defense contract agency and brings the experience of attending many
schools, overseas as well. She has a masters in public
administration , and as a taxpayer, with no children of her own,
believes the taxpayer deserves to know just as much as parents do.
Silverthorn beat Emily Hansen, 57 percent to 43 percent.
Doug Benevento, who will be responsible for District E, is an
attorney in private practice, has children in the school district
next year, and said after speaking with many parents, students
taxpayers and administration, he believe there was a lot of
frustration with the current school board.
“We worked hard to get the word out to the people about
transparency, rewarding great teachers, and I think the message was
heard,” Benevento said.
His opponent, long time school board member and current
president, Kristine Turner, lost by about 13 percent.
“Our kids aren’t going to be competing with kids from just
Jefferson County, but from China, Brazil and Europe,” Benevento
said. “We need to prepare them to be the best they can be, with
arts, science, history and mathematics.”
In response to the partisan pre-election campaigning, Benevento
said it was behind them now, the election is over and he believes
that people can tell a lot about a person by the groups they are
involved with. He said not only were there candidates supported by
the Republican party, the teachers union, but by the Douglas County
Democratic party as well.
District D representative Dan Gerken, winning over Kevin Leung
by about 20 percent, believes that as a school board member, the
district needs to set the bar higher.
“We need to compare ourselves to the best schools in the
country, if not the world.” A strong advocate of charter schools,
Gerken said, “Presently, for every child that is lucky enough to
win the lottery and gain admittance to a charter school, at least
one to two kids are turned away.”
Leung commented after the elections by saying, “Voters in
Douglas County have spoken and I respect their choices. I wish the
new members the best of luck. The school district has real problems
for them to solve immediately. Let's put partisanship and bad
feelings aside, and work together to come up with the best
solutions for the school district.”
Carson, representing District B, said his three children are
what has motivated him to run for the school board. He is an
attorney in Denver working with affordable housing issues. Carson
came in with 57.8 percent of the votes, compared to Sue Catterall
with 42.2 percent.
“Also, the teachers are the most important — study after study
shows the quality in the classroom, you remember.”
Carson wants to work toward better salaries for the teachers as
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