Two years ago, Verde Valley voters had little from which to choose in deciding who would serve on our local school boards.
Across the Valley, there were 14 available school board seats up for election. In all, there were 14 candidates seeking public office at the school board level.
In the Cottonwood-Oak Creek District, only two candidates tossed their hats into the ring for the four available seats. County Superintendent Tim Carter had to appoint people to fill the two remaining seats.
The Mingus Union and Camp Verde districts were the only ones in the Verde Valley that even had contested races, but just barely. Each district had four challengers for three available seats. Clarkdale-Jerome and Beaver Creek attracted just enough candidates for the elected positions available.
Fortunately, it was just an aberration in local citizen activism. With last week's filing deadline for the November general election ballot, contested school board races in the Verde Valley are the rule rather than the exception. In most instances, voters will need to do their homework.
In the Mingus Union District, for example, incumbent Andy Groseta seeks re-election and faces a strong challenge from James Ledbetter, Eric Wyles and former board member Leland Wieweck. Four excellent choices. Two available seats for voters to fill. Likewise, the Cottonwood-Oak Creek District has four candidates vying for three openings on the board.
Camp Verde has a trio of candidates for two two-year terms on the board, but just two candidates for the other two four-year terms. Beaver Creek and Clarkdale-Jerome each have three challengers for two available seats.
In the Valley-wide VACTE District, incumbents Steve Dockray and Tom Moore both get a free pass this year, but voters still have a tough choice for the other remaining seat up for election on that board. Incumbent Sonny Rodriguez and challenger Kerrie Bluff, who is stepping down from the Mingus board, are both of the highest integrity and have a proven track record of service to the community.
Local voters certainly will need to do their homework between now and November.