At-large seats, unexpired term up for grabs on Lansing school board

John Richmeier
The Leavenworth Times

Voters in the Lansing school district have six candidates to choose from in a race for three four-year at-large terms on the Board of Education. And there are four candidates, including one write-in candidate, for a single two-year unexpired term.

In the race for the at-large seats, voters will be asked to vote for three or fewer candidates. The top three vote-getters will be elected to the positions.

The candidates are incumbent Beth Stevenson as well as Amy Cawvey, Jeff Bollin, Roy Foster, Susie Jorgensen Werth and Mary Wood.

The Leavenworth Times submitted the same questions to all of the candidates. Foster and Wood did not respond in time. The answers from the other candidates are included in this article.

In the race for the unexpired term, the candidates are incumbent Cheryl Runnebaum as well as April Cromer, Carla Wiegers and Amy Zimmerman. Cromer's name does not appear on ballots for the election, but she is running as a write-in candidate.

Voters will vote for only one candidate in this race.

Answers from these candidates also are included in this article.

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

At-large candidates

Amy Cawvey

Amy Cawvey

Age: 51

Occupation: No information provided

Political experience: None

Jeff Bollin

Jeff Bollin

Age: 39

Occupation: Project superintendent; heavy equipment operator

Political experience: None

Beth Stevenson

Beth Stevenson

Age: 57

Occupation: Manager of social work services

Political experience: Served on the Lansing Board of Education

Susie Jorgensen Werth

Susie Jorgensen Werth

Age: 43

Occupation: Dealer relationship manager

Political experience: Our schools should not be a platform for politics. Decisions should be made in the best interest of the kids, district staff and community.

Candidates for the unexpired term

April D. Cromer

April Cromer

Age: 48

Career: Federal paralegal (retired)

Political experience: I have drafted legislation and collaborated with U.S. senators and U.S. attorneys on high-profile, national cases. Additionally, I have approximately six years of experience managing taxpayer dollars in federal and state budgets. I also have a background in human resources.

Cheryl Runnebaum

Cheryl Runnebaum

Age: 45

Occupation: Dean of career and technical education

Political experience: 18 months on the USD 469 school board

Carla W. Wiegers

Carla Wiegers

Age: 57

Occupation: Instructor/trainer, Northrop Grumman/Native American Technology Corporation, virtual three-dimensional map, Mission Command Training Program ; U.S. Army veteran (colonel, retired); Morgan Hunter Education Division

Political experience: I vote

Amy Zimmerman

Amy Zimmerman

Age: 48

Occupation: Independent Aflac agent

Political experience: None

What changes would you like to see in the school system?

Cawvey: I would like greater transparency, accountability, improved student performance and respect for parental authority over their children's education. The school board works for the parents and taxpayers along with the administration, teachers and staff. When elected I will value all stakeholders but especially the parents and students. Students should always come first.

Bollin: I would like to see our students' education be the No. 1 priority again. Many students fell behind with online learning and COVID-19 restrictions. We need to help these students get back on track without sacrificing the continued education of their peers.

Stevenson: I am running for the Lansing Board of Education because I believe I can make a difference. Schools are a partnership with students, parents, teachers and the community. I want to help develop educational opportunities for our students that ensure they are college and career ready while being fiscally responsible with taxpayer dollars.

Werth: There are so many things we do very well in Lansing USD 469. I am extremely proud of our schools, staff and students. I'd like to see a school board made up of diverse members of the community. Excellence in education should be a high priority in the decision-making process.

Cromer: I would like to see more focus on students’ education and less on political ideologies or social agendas in the classroom. The role of the education system, including the Board of Education, does not supersede the role of parents. The BOE should listen and respond to all parental concerns.

Runnebaum: Creation of a long-term strategic plan that establishes organizational structures ensuring the best education for all students, including fiscal health and planning, policy updates/revisions and positive stakeholder relationships.

Wiegers: Create a district vision and culture that supports competitive education for students going into college or trades. Our community entrusts us to track trends and best practices for teaching and learning. Demonstrate fiscal responsibility and transparency.

Zimmerman: I would support more vocational opportunities for high school students to get certifications before graduation. I would like to see continued improvements in communication and transparency in school curriculum, activities and finances. Working toward creative ways to attract and retain teaching talent.

Why are you the best candidate for the position?

Cawvey: I am a parent of three children and one grandchild. I will always do my best to put students first while being a voice for the parents. Children are the next generation and future of our country. I can't think of anything more important. I would be honored to serve.

Bollin: I would say to all parents and citizens in the district, I am one of you. I have two children in the district and I want to see them be prepared for the future. I will be a voice for all parents and citizens that feel like their voices are not being heard.

Stevenson: I raised six children K-12 in Lansing schools, volunteering in many roles, including the school board. I have a Master of Science in Social Work and have 30 years experience leading and managing employees, working with people experiencing kidney failure and overcoming obstacles, but my best qualification is that I truly care about the success of the children in our district.

Werth: I have a daughter attending Lansing and a vested interest in the success of the district. I come from a family of educators. I graduated in 2000 from Pittsburg State University and since have worked in the finance industry. My career has prepared me to be a valuable addition to the Lansing Board of Education.

Cromer: I am a constitutional conservative. I will always refer to the law and the U.S. Constitution for any and all decisions I would make as a BOE member. When elected, I will bridge the gap between the community and the school system by fostering healthy relationships between parents, teachers and students.

Runnebaum: I have 20-plus years of varied educational work experiences, accolades and a proven track record of successfully turning around projects/programs. It is what I love doing and want to continue doing for USD 469.

Wiegers: I collaborate by researching, problem-solving and exhibiting responsible decision making for student learning. I possess education and experience to lead an organization that motivates students to find purpose for a fulfilling life.

Zimmerman: Being positive and truly focused on the goal of educating the youth of our community. Analyzing the facts and data before making a decision. I am an independent thinker. Humility. I am not in this for myself. I want to make a positive impact for the students and community.