In the next two weeks, voters in Colorado Springs School District 11 have a chance to reassert their wishes for the direction of their schools. This opportunity should not be overlooked, or taken lightly; we urge all D-11 voters to fill out and submit their ballots by Dec. 12.
Recall Sandy Shakes: Yes
Sandy Shakes has undertaken a variety of questionable actions. She championed Sharon Thomas during the six-month search for a new D-11 superintendent position, then cast the deciding vote to fire Thomas less than a year later. Shakes also endorsed the large financial package that Thomas received as severance pay.
In March, she proposed that D-11 retain her recently formed company to start a teacher-training program. When questioned about the ethics of such a proposition, Shakes stated that she would be willing to resign her board seat if awarded the contract. Such convoluted actions create the appearance of significant conflict of interest.
Recall Eric Christen: Yes
The other recall target is ideologue and bully Eric Christen. Fortunately, he recently announced that he will resign. Unfortunately, he has given media outlets conflicting information regarding when he'll make it official; at least two accounts have him waiting until the day after the recall votes are tallied.
Voters may believe Christen has already resigned, and may not vote to recall him. After three resignation threats in the past, there is no reason to believe that he will indeed step down. Vote to recall him.
To replace Sandy Shakes: Janet Tanner
Janet Tanner, District 11 board treasurer for the past two years, has the background and the temperament to serve the district's 30,000 students and their parents from day one.
Through her experience as a D-11 parent volunteer, as well as with both the D-11 Parent-Teacher Association and the statewide PTA board, the 50-year-old Tanner has acquired a thorough understanding of the issues facing D-11. Also, she has experience navigating the board's complicated budget.
Of even greater importance is Tanner's professional and mature composure. She is a quiet, determined public school advocate and problem-solver. Her presence will help end the infighting that has plagued the board.
To replace Eric Christen: Charlie Bobbitt
Charlie Bobbitt's extensive volunteer experience in District 11 makes him the best candidate to fill this seat. A founding member of the Wasson High School Alumni Association, Bobbitt, age 58, has served on numerous district committees, including the District Accountability Group.
As both a District 11 parent and graduate who says he has visited every one of D-11's 65 schools, Bobbitt demonstrates a commitment and a passion for the district that his two opponents can't match.
The Independent applauds the candidacy of Albert Gonzales, who rightly highlights the need for D-11 to improve the performance of its minority students. But Gonzales' lack of meaningful volunteer experience with the D-11 schools leaves Bobbitt as the clear choice.
How to vote
In order for your vote to count, make sure to mark "yes" or "no" on the recall questions and then vote for replacement candidates regardless of your answer. Mail in or drop off your completed ballot by 7 p.m. on Dec 12 at one of three locations:
Clerk & Recorder: Powers Branch
5650 Industrial Place (southeast corner of Powers Boulevard and Airport Road)
Colorado Springs, CO 80916
Clerk & Recorder: Chapel Hills Mall Branch
1710 Briargate Blvd. #350 (on the north side, next to JC Penney)
Colorado Springs, CO 80920
Clerk & Recorder: Centennial Hall Branch
200 S. Cascade Ave.
P.O. Box 2007
Colorado Springs, CO 80901
If you are a registered voter in D-11 and do not have a ballot, call 575-VOTE (8683) to get yours.