Seven running for Libby School Board
by Kootenai Valley Record
May 4, 2009
Five candidates are vying for three three-year vacancies on the Libby School Board while another two are in the running for a single one-year vacancy.
The school board election will be held Tuesday, May 5, with the polls at the Asa Wood Elementary gym open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Candidates for the three-year terms are Lee Disney, Bruce Drury, Ellen Parker Johnston, Jeffrey Koskela and Bruce Sickler. Candidates for the one-year position are Sarah Crace and Gary Huntsberger.
Lee Disney is a current board member. The owner of Hoodoo Mountain Pellets, he previously served on the board for nine years, took some time off, and was elected again three years ago.
"It’s become one of those passions in my life, trying to make a difference," he said.
Disney noted his experience on the board and said he would like to continue working on issues that have arisen as the district adapts to declining enrollment, such as the need to consolidate students at fewer school buildings.
"We’ve got some things that we’ve got to address and get done and inform the public and move forward," he said.
Bruce Drury was born and raised in Libby and is the father of three children, the youngest of whom will graduate from Libby High School this year. He is a former truck driver who retired due to a disability. He said he’s offering himself as a fresh face on the board and will listen to district constituents if elected.
"My agenda is to listen to the people who vote me in and do the things that they want done," he said.
Ellen Parker Johnston was born and raised in the Libby-Troy area and returned to the area after retiring from a career as a teacher and principal. She bought the Huckleberry House bed and breakfast three years ago and said she feels it’s time to get involved in the community.
"Since I know education, I thought that would be a logical place to get involved," she said.
Jeffrey Koskela is the owner of Kootenai Truck Repair. He has two children, one at the middle school and one at the high school, and has been involved in youth baseball programs.
"I thought maybe instead of standing back and criticizing, maybe I could step in and help," he said.
Koskela said he’s concerned about dwindling enrollment and the associated loss of funding for the schools.
"Our future is our children, and we need to do the best we can for them," he said.
Bruce Sickler is a current school board member appointed to fill a vacancy last August. A 1979 graduate of Libby High School and operator of a drywall business, he has two children in the district – one in fifth grade and one in eighth – "and that’s the biggest reason I decided to apply for the board," he said.
"I just feel like it’s kind of my civic duty," he said.
During his time on the board, Sickler has been involved in planning for a new elementary school and a strategic planning process in which he chairs the safety and environment committee.
Sarah Crace went through the Libby school system herself and is currently the mother of three children in Libby schools. She is involved in the Little Guy wrestling program and said she would like to be involved in the planning for a new elementary school. Crace said she’s also interested in working with special programs for both advanced and struggling students to make sure everyone has opportunities to learn.
Gary Huntsberger served on the school board from 1997 to 2003 and is also a former member of the Libby City Council. He currently volunteers with several organizations including Rotary, the Libby Tree Board, the county-Forest Service Resource Advisory Committee, the Bull Lake Rod & Gun Club and the Memorial Center. He said he doesn’t have any specific agenda and if elected would serve only one year to lend his experience during a transitional period for the board.
The three-year terms to be filled in next week’s election are currently held by Disney and by Jerry Frament and Gela Koehler, who are not seeking re-election. The one-year position is for the remainder of the term to which Sickler was appointed.
Editor’s Note: See the April 28, 2009 edition of the Kootenai Valley Record for the printed version of this story. The Kootenai Valley Record publishes once a week, now on Tuesday, in Libby, Montana. They are a locally owned community newspaper, located at 403 Mineral Avenue in Libby. For in-county and out-of-county subscription information, call 406-293-2424, or e-mail email@example.com.