Three contested races for Easton school board

John Richmeier
The Leavenworth Times

There are three contested races this year for the Easton Board of Education.

Most of the positions on the school board represent specific geographical areas of the district. Position 4 represents a northwest section of the district. Three candidates are running for this position – incumbent Jerry Barnes and Danielle Baker and Danyelle Burris.

Position 5 represents a southern section of the district. Two people, incumbent Eugene Heim and Richard Martin, filed as candidates for this position.

Position 6 represents a northeast section of the district. Two candidates, incumbent John McEvoy and Will Blandin, are running for this position.

The Leavenworth Times attempted to send the same questions to all of the candidates. The Times was unable to reach Martin, and McEvoy did not respond in time. Responses from the other candidates are included in this article.

Early voting has started. Election Day is Nov. 2.

Position 4

Danielle R. Baker

Danielle Baker

Age: 42

Occupation: Registered nurse

Political experience: Zero

Jerry C. Barnes

Jerry Barnes

Age: 69

Occupation: Retired

Political experience: 16 years on USD 449 school board

Danyelle Burris

Danyelle Burris

Age: 33

Occupation: Finance and operations support at Brown’s Fabrication & Steel

Political experience: No official political experience

Position 5

Eugene Heim

Eugene Heim

Age: 68

Occupation: Retired

Political experience: Easton USD 449 school board member 1989-1999

Position 6

Will Blandin

Will Blandin

Age: 35

Occupation: Retired Army

Political experience: Absolutely none

Why are you running for the Easton Board of Education?

Baker: I'm running for the Easton Board of Education because I'm committed and truly care about the community in which I live. I have three children in the school district. One in first grade, one in eighth and my oldest is a junior.

Barnes: To support the students and patrons of the district.

Burris: I’m running for the Easton USD 449 school board because I feel I can support the community by providing my knowledge and voice to advocate for our students and teachers to continue to keep Easton USD 449 the best district in the area.

Heim: Six of my grandchildren are currently attending school in the Easton school district. I think my experience will help keep quality staff and maintain quality facilities.

Blandin: I am a parent of two young Rams, a former employee of USD 449, and I coach 10U Rams softball as well as 8U Rams baseball.

What are the most important issues facing the school district?

Baker: Vulnerability the pandemic has placed on the community and impacted our children. The need to identify mental illness and how that impacts the capabilities to teach and students to learn. Keeping minds engaged and focused in order to reach their highest potential.

Barnes: COVID 19. Keeping the most students in school every day. Social and emotional health. Teacher’s pay. Declining enrollment and increase of out-of-district students. More on-the-job training for students entering the workforce out of high school. On campus vocational classes. More on campus college classes.

Burris: Our curriculum needs updating. Our district has been facing large turnover over the last few years. We need more student services available, such as mental health support and learning loss support. We need an action plan in place for COVID-19 restrictions with an end goal. Our budget can stand to be refined.

Heim: We learned last year that remote learning is not for all students. We must keep schools open and keep students in the classrooms. Hiring and keeping good teachers in our school district.

Blandin: The safety of our students while learning in the classroom. Infrastructure as USD 449 continues to grow.