GRAND JUNCTION – Amid accusations that the non-partisan race has been politicized, three candidates who are openly supported by the Mesa County Republican Women are challenging four other candidates, two of them incumbents, for three positions on the Mesa County District 51 school board.
Linda Gregory, president of Mesa County Republican Women, said her group hopes their three favored candidates – Pat Kanda, Mike Lowenstein and John Sluder – join conservatives Jeff Leany and Ann Tisue on the school board.
“It’s a very big race that we need to win this time,” Gregory said.
In District C, Kanda faces two candidates: Lonnie White and incumbent John Williams, who was appointed by school board president Greg Mikolai to fill the remaining term of Harry Butler, who died unexpectedly this summer.
In District D, Lowenstein is facing Tom Parrish; neither are incumbents.
In District E, Sluder is challenging incumbent Mikolai.
Except for White, who has not made a public statement on the issue, the other six candidates are all opposed to Amendment 66, the $1 billion, two-tiered income tax hike on the ballot in November.
Mikolai told the Daily Sentinel that an analysis showed that District 51 would actually lose $2 to $5 million due to changes in calculating at-risk student funding under the new formula proposed by the state legislature.
“I’m not a fan of legislating through ballot initiatives,” Mikolai said.
Mikolai’s opponent Sluder said now is not the right time to raise the individual income tax “especially when so many are struggling.”
District C candidate Kanda suggested amending the state constitution to devote a portion of the lottery funds to education.
“I don’t think more taxes, more money, is really the solution to some of the ills public education has right now,” Kanda said.
District C incumbent Williams said he favored increasing education funding but not through Amendment 66.
In District D, Lowenstein said he hadn’t heard anything good about Amendment 66 and opponent Parrish said he would prefer to look for local funding solutions for District 51.