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Stakes high in school board race

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By Greg Romberg

A campaign flier being distributed for Jeffco school board candidate Preston Branaugh contains the following conversation.
“DadVanHorn: So what did our sons learn in school today?
“Son: I learned we evolved from mud.
“Son: I learned we’ll be safer when all our firearms are confiscated.
“Son: I learned that you don’t pay enough taxes.”
When I wrote about the upcoming school board election last month and made the point that a vote for Branaugh and fellow candidate Jim Powers was an endorsement of current board member Laura Boggs and that their election would create a new board majority, both this newspaper and I were criticized for not revealing that I support Branaugh’s opponent, Jill Fellman, in the election.
So, let me make it perfectly clear: I do support Jill Fellman. I am a member of her steering committee. I’ve contributed money to her campaign. I also support Lesley Dahlkemper in her campaign for school board. I’m listed on her campaign website as a supporter. I’ve contributed money to her campaign. I’ve hosted an event to introduce both candidates to our friends and neighbors.
Both Fellman and Dahlkemper have long and demonstrated records with regard to the school district. Fellman is retired from the district after serving both as a teacher and administrator. Dahlkemper is very familiar with the district. She’s seen it as a reporter, as a consultant and as co-chair of the citizens committee for the last mill-levy election. They both know how things work, where there are problems, and are prepared to take seats on the board ready to address the difficult budget issues we face.
Both Fellman and Dahlkemper began consideration to run for these seats very early in the process. They discussed their thoughts with people from throughout the county, formed bipartisan steering committees made up of business, political and community leaders, and announced their candidacies last spring. They’ve made themselves available to voters throughout the county for several months by attending numerous meetings, community fairs and summer parades. They both attended the school district’s citizen budget academy to enhance their knowledge of how things work and the problems we face. Fellman and Dahlkemper have been forthcoming about their interest in serving us on the school board and their positions on issues of importance.
I’ve yet to see the same things from their opponents. The aforementioned flier makes me scratch my head. It’s ridiculous to assert Jeffco kids are taught in school that we evolved from mud, that our guns should be confiscated or that we don’t pay enough taxes. Campaigns should be about real issues. Powers and Branaugh entered the race at the last possible moment. Newspaper accounts of their statements in both Jefferson County newspaper groups and the Denver Post have left the impression that they have been less than forthcoming about their positions on controversial education issues of the day. Fellman and Dahlkemper have been assailed for receiving the support of the Jefferson County Education Association. Their detractors don’t mention that they’ve also been endorsed by the Jefferson County Association of Realtors and the Golden Good Government League and have the backing of diverse business, political and community leaders that belong to both major political parties.
Elections have consequences. Because the Jefferson County Board of Education has only five members and the candidates in this election see the world so differently, the consequences of this election are incredibly significant. While Boggs, Powers and Branaugh and their supporters should fight for their vision for our schools, Fellman and Dahlkemper better represent my views.
To those who believed my previous column on this election was flawed because I didn’t explicitly state which candidates I support, I trust this column is clear. Your mail ballot should have already arrived. It must be returned by Nov. 1. I encourage you to cast it for Jill Fellman and Lesley Dahlkemper.

Greg Romberg is president of Romberg and Associates, a government relations and public affairs firm. He lives in Evergreen with his wife, Laurie, and three daughters.