Sunday, August 28, 2011

One-stop shopping for the school board election

I want this post to serve as a collecting spot for information about the candidates in our local September 13 school board election. I will keep adding to it as more information becomes available. I’m sure I’m missing things; please feel free to suggest additional links in the comments or via email. (I hope you’ll also feel free to check out some of the site’s other posts while you’re here.)


For live-blogging of the election results as they come (as well as early reports on turnout), click here.


Eight candidates are competing for four at-large seats on the board. In addition, voters will choose between two candidates, Julie Van Dyke and Karla Cook, to fill the unexpired term of Mike Cooper. As a result, five members of the seven-member board will be chosen in this election. Here's what the ballot will look like. Find your polling place here. (Go to your “school precinct,” not your “regular precinct.”)

The polls will be open from 7 am to 8 pm on Tuesday, September 13. Same-day voter registration is permitted. Absentee ballots must be requested by Friday, September 9, and postmarked by Monday, September 12.

Voters will also decide whether to approve a new bond for Kirkwood Community College.


This blog’s questionnaire to the candidates, with links to their responses
The teachers’ union’s questionnaire and responses
Press-Citizen’s “Questions to Ask School Board Candidates”


I know of four scheduled debates:
Monday, August 29 at 7 pm, Hills Community Center, 100 E. Main Street, Hills;
Thursday, September 1 at 6:30 pm, Iowa City Public Library;
Tuesday, September 6 at 7 pm., City High (focused on curriculum and funding); and
Thursday, September 8 at 7 pm, West High (focused on redistricting).
The September 1 debate is available here as a podcast.

The September 6 debate will be replayed on local cable channel 21 on:
September 7 at noon, 2 pm, 4 pm, and 9 pm;
September 8 at 10 am, noon, 2 pm, 4 pm, and 9 pm;
September 9 at 2 pm;
September 10 at 8 am, 5 pm, and 9 pm; and
September 11 at 8 am, 5 pm, and 9 pm.
The September 8 debate will be replayed on local cable channel 21 on:
September 9 at 10 am, noon, 4 pm, and 9 pm;
September 10 at 10 am, 3 pm, and 7 pm;
September 11 at 10 am, 3 pm, and 7 pm; and
September 12 at 10 pm, 2 pm, and 9 pm.
The September 6 and 8 debates are organized by the District Parent Organization; historically, those debates have had a pretty tightly constrained format. The September 1 debate is sponsored by the Press-Citizen and the Iowa City Education Association; historically, their format has been more of a free-for-all.


This blog’s posts on the election
Commentary by John Deeth here and here
The teachers’ union summary of the candidates’ pros and cons
Press-Citizen: Reasons to learn more about the school board election
Iowa City Patch: Live-blog commentary on September 1 forum
Another local blogger's take on the September 1 forum
Press-Citizen: Vote yes on the bond issue
Press-Citizen endorses Cook, Swesey, McGinness, Hoelscher, and Porter
More commentary by Mariaconz
The Gazette: Why to vote
Mariaconz's election eve thoughts
Iowa City Patch: Live-blog commentary on the September 8 debate
Press-Citizen: Daunting tasks face everyone who wins today
This blog's choice: Why I'm voting for Julie VanDyke


Press-Citizen: Ten candidates seek school board seats
Gazette: Plenty of candidates for school board
Coverage of August 29 debate here
Press-Citizen: Hoelscher to hold forum
Press-Citizen: School board hopefuls sound off at forum
Hoelscher to host listening posts
Federation of Labor endorses Tate, Fields, McGinness, and Porter
Coverage of the September 6 debate is here
Press-Citizen: Teachers' union endorses Cook, Swesey, Fields, Porter, and Hemingway
Coverage of the September 8 debate is here
McGinness to attend coffee event Sunday
John Deeth: McGinness Top School Spender
Daily Iowan: School Board candidates discuss transparency, enrollment


Jeff Alden: Statement, statement, profile
Karla Cook: Statement, statement, profile
Patti Fields: Statement, statement, profile
Phil Hemingway: Statement, statement, profile, profile
Sally Hoelscher: Statement, statement, profile
Jeff McGinness: Statement, statement, profile, profile, interview
Bob Porter: Statement, statement, profile
Marla Swesey: Statement, statement, profile
James Tate: Statement, statement, profile
Julie VanDyke: Statement, statement, profile


Available here.


Patti Fields
Sally Hoelscher website, Facebook page
Jeff McGinness
Marla Swesey
Julie VanDyke


Doris said...

Thanks for your work in gathering all these great materials! I'd really love to hear what your (local) readers have to say about the candidates and election.

KD said...

I agree with Doris...thanks for posting all the information!

As for my opinions about candidates, I know I won't vote for Patti Fields. I'm undecided so far about who I will vote for.

KD said...

I watched the debates.

I had trouble following Jeff Alden's train of thought.

While perhaps unfair, I wish there could have been specific questions directed at Patti Fields and her tenure on the Board. On the other hand, I still won't vote for her.

I think I prefer Julie Van Dyke for the two year term. I think she had some good things to say about transparency, and the financial situation.

I'm not sure who used the term "the board has one employee", in regards to the superintendent. Maybe Patti Fields or Sally Hoelscher? While I think Murley has made some mistakes, I think there was a lot of leftover issues that will take a long time to solve, especially the mishandling of the financial issues.

There was a lot of talk of curriculum in the one debate, which I found surprising. As long as I have been paying attention to the school board, they have talked little about what actually goes on in the classroom.

KD said...

I have to also say that I am befuddled by the support of Patti Fields by groups such as the teachers' union, and the Federation of Labor.

Not Befuddled at All said...

KD - Patti is an insider in the local Democrat party. The two primary special interest groups the Democrats represent in Johnson County (after the homosexuals) are the teachers' union and the other unions. Remember hearing recently that the rest of us are "SOBs" to be "taken out!"? He wasn't kidding.

Therefore, no matter what Patti does or doesn't actually do as a school board member - she will get their support. The candidates who have the cajones to actually be registered Republicans are actively being slammed by the local Democrats.

Chris said...

I’m not sure why it would be surprising, or objectionable, that Democrats, gay people, and unions tend to work together, since they share positions on issues that they think are important. I do think a person’s party affiliation tells us something. But just telling me someone is a Democrat or a Republican is nowhere near a complete argument for why I should vote for or against that person, especially at the school board level.

As for your Hoffa reference, it’s obvious, when you see the full video, that Hoffa was talking about defeating conservative politicians, not about physically harming rank-and-file Tea Partiers. The rest is all Fox-News-manufactured baloney. You might try tuning in to Jon Stewart instead.

Anonymous said...

Here are some words from the candidates in the Gazette.

Chris said...

Anonymous -- Thanks!

Chris said...

Anonymous -- I've added links to those articles to the section on Candidate Statements and Profiles, above.

Chris said...

I just wanted to make a point about Sally Hoelscher, and this seemed like as good a place as any to make it. I’ve heard occasional rumblings of concern about the fact that Hoelscher’s background is in Christian education (for example, here). Given the controversies that have arisen elsewhere over whether creationism or intelligent design should be taught in public schools, I suppose it’s not surprising that people might want some reassurance on that issue. But it’s unfair to assume that everyone who’s been involved in Christian education is a proselytizing creationist or young-earther. To the extent that people need reassurance, they should take a look at this link (no longer in existence, but cached on Google), from an organization that prominently featured Hoelscher’s role on its website. The group was focused on “progressive Christian education,” and it described itself as made up of people “who are committed to taking the Bible seriously but not literally ... who believe justice and grace and compassion and love are at the core of what it means to be Christian ... who practice spiritual disciplines and still love God with their minds as well ... who know themselves to be on a meaningful and hope-filled journey of faith.” The group promoted “environmental issues,” “social justice,” and the need to be “accepting of all persons.” It’s obvious that she’s no Ralph Reed or Pat Robertson. Nothing I’ve seen or heard from Hoelscher provides any reason to worry that she’d want to impose her religious beliefs on the kids in school.

KD said...

Good comments about Sally Hoelscher. I agree it is unfair to assume that she holds certain views about creationism/evolution or that she would want to integrate her views into public education.

Julie VanDyke said...

Hi Chris - would you be willing to add my facebook page to the similar listing for other candidates above? It's at

Best wishes,

Chris said...

Julie -- Sure. Thanks!

Jason said...

Chris, just my view on your comment ....

"On average, people used only 3.3 of their four possible votes for the four-year seats. That's 2,930 votes that went uncast, Also, 456 people chose not to cast a vote for the two-year seat."

Talking to a few that I know who only cast 3 out of the 4 votes, its no big secret or conspiracy, it came down to lack of options. They didn't feel strongly about any of the other candidates.

Out of the rest after the first three, they didn't want any of them.
Bad reason not to vote but in my eyes that is why a majority of people do not vote. They don't like either party or person. They can't find enough common ground to agree with them, thus in their eyes why vote.

Here is a good conspiracy laugh, you missed that out of all the candidates, all the women were picked, then one man. =) Mrs VanDyke might have had a better chance running for a four year term, instead of against another woman! =P

Chris said...

Jason -- I agree about people not using all of their votes. I had a hard time figuring out how to cast that fourth vote myself. It was more from a process of elimination than from any enthusiasm.

Also, sometimes it's just a rational calculation. A voter who really wanted Jeff Alden to win should have cast only one vote; voting for any other candidates would likely just have pushed them further in front of Alden.