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Three candidates running for two open Haakon 27-1 Board of Education seats

Three candidates are running for two open seats on the Haakon School District Board of Education.

They are challengers Doug Thorson and Tim Quinn, and incumbents Vonda Hamill.

The school board seats are voted on at-large, rather than by separate districts. The three candidates are running for the two seats that had been filled for one year by appointment and have two years remaining on their three-year terms.

Vonda Hamill

Family: I am married to Jason Hamill, we have two sons. Nick is a freshman at Philip High School, Carson is in the fourth grade at Milesville rural attendance center. We operate a farm/ranch in northern Haakon county.

How long in area? We have lived here for 20 years. We moved to this area in the spring of 1991; I was hired as a rural teacher for the King rural school at that time, after teaching a fourth grade classroom in Bozeman, Mont.

Why are you the best candidate? Diplomatically speaking, I don't know that I am the 'best' candidate for the position, but I feel strongly that voters should have a choice in the matter and I dislike seeing seats on any board given to someone by default. People need to be willing to step up and take a turn at public service, and we've got some good candidates for these seats. I feel I am only doing my part, serving the patrons of the district to the best of my ability and giving them a say in who they put in the seat.

What are your top strengths for this position? Boards that work well together usually have a variety of ideologies. A diverse group ensures that different ideas and opinions get brought to the forefront of an issue and discussions are more productive. I bring the perspective of having taught in a classroom, being a mom and having my own children enrolled in the district, having experience with hiring administration, planning a district budget, as well as negotiating with the teachers and support staff. I now have seven years of board experience, and believe that the situations for every district in our state are about to get more complicated and more difficult to manage, so continuity and stability may be the best defense.

Tim Quinn

Family: My wife, Lori, works part time in Philip. I have two sons; Josh is a sophomore at Philip High School and Kelton is a second grader at Philip Elementary.

How long in area? I was born and raised on the eastern edge of the Milesville area on a farm/ranch that my grandfather homesteaded. After graduating from Midland in 1985, I moved to Rapid City for school. After school I worked in construction until 2002 when my family and I moved back to Milesville to take over the family farm.

Why are you the best candidate? I believe I am the best candidate because I understand the importance of a good education for our youth. I also realize that, with the proposed funding cuts at the state and federal level for education, the school board will have to make some difficult decisions in the near future. I believe I can help make the right decisions for our school.

What are your top strengths for this position? I try to take a rational, common sense approach to problem solving. I am also a very good team player, with the ability to listen to other opinions and ideas. I use all the information I can gather to make responsible decisions.

Doug Thorson

Family: I am married to Nancy Thorson. We have two daughters and a son. Grace is a sophomore at Dakota Wesleyan in Mitchell, Cassidy is a sophomore at Philip High School and Hannah is in kindergarten.

How long in area? I was born and raised here. I operate a fourth generation ranch in the southwest part of Haakon County. Nancy moved here in 2001, when we got married. She was raised on a ranch near Alzada, Mont.

Why are you the best candidate? I am not sure I am comfortable calling myself the best candidate when I look back at the list of people who have served for the past 20-plus years. They have guided the school into an educational institution that has students wanting to come here with the open enrollment, while maintaining a financial strength that puts it somewhere in the top 30 percent of districts in South Dakota. I am simply a person who has offered his name to be put on the ballot at this time, with no agenda other than carrying on the tradition of excellence that identifies our school.

What are your top strengths for this position? I have experience in sitting on boards. I spent six years on the board of the Lake Waggoner Golf Association, serving as president in 2000. I also spent six years on the board at the United Church in Philip, serving as president for a year during a transition period between pastors. I will be rejoining that board at the end of this year. I have also served as master of the Philip Lodge of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons three different years and will be serving as district master for District 15 for the next three years. Those positions have taught me that not all decisions are easy, but you have to stand for what you believe is the best course of action for the good of the whole. The legislature made some tough decisions last year and that created a situattion where every local board will have some tough decisions to make. I think my having been on other boards will help me to assist with the decisions to come.

To be eligible to vote in the April 12 election, a resident must be registered to vote no later than March 28. Registration may be done at the Haakon County auditor's office, the municipal finance office, secretary of state's office, or any location that provides driver's licenses, military recruitment or assistance to the disabled as provided by the Department of Human Services. Voter registration can also be done at any location that provides Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children.

The school board holds regular meetings 12 times per year. Committee meetings and special meetings are rare. Members receive $50 per meeting. They also receive mileage to and from those meetings at the state rate. Terms begin with the July board meeting, which is the start of the district's fiscal year. During that meeting, the new or renewing members will take their oath of office.