Election 2016: Washoe school board Seat A candidates sound off
May 25, 2016
INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — The primary election in Nevada is set for June 14. There are a number of races important to local voters, including two seats on the Washoe County School District Board.
Three candidates have filed for the District A seat, which covers southeast Reno and Incline Village: Colleen Doenges, Scott Kelley and Dale Richardson. Incumbent Lisa Ruggerio is not running for reelection.
For this race, residents will be asked to vote for one candidate; the top two vote-getters for each will then move onto November's general election.
To better inform voters heading to the polls, the Bonanza offered each candidate space for a bio and a 750-word-max statement. Read both below, published verbatim.
Robert "Dale" Richardson
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Full-time residence in Washoe County: Galena, Austrian Pine Rd, Reno
How long you have been a resident within District A: 20 years
Current occupation: Retired
Formal education: A.A. in Criminal Justice
Current and previous political/governmental experience: I spent 11 years working for the WCSD Police Department which allowed me to interact with the students, staff and parents off all WCSD schools. I also ran for Washoe County Board of Trustee for District "A" in 2012.
I am the proud parent of two children in the School District. I am not a politician. I am a parent. I have not sought any other office and do not intend to. I am seeking this position because I believe that we must bring back common sense decisions and improve our School District image and practices.
We must also regain public confidence in a functioning School Board. I intend to collaborate with Board members to make strategic choices for the wellbeing of the District. I am committed to strong decision making by thoroughly analyzing and balancing the needs and concerns of our community. I have the ability to see the long-term implications of an action and to intervene when appropriate.
My experience as the deputy chief of police with the Washoe County School District allowed me unique access to the schools. I had the privilege of participating in a collaborative relationship with staff, students and the community. I was able to engage both internal and external stakeholders in setting and achieving goals to positively impact students. I am very familiar with the socioeconomic status of student achievement and have actively participated in the "Door to Door for Student Achievement" campaign.
No other candidate has demonstrated this degree of hands on involvement with our schools. I believe experience matters. As a retiree and vested parent I have the time and energy required to represent the community fully as Washoe County School Board of Trustee's in District A.
Regain Taxpayers' Trust and Confidence in the Board
We need to budget smarter, reduce waste and put more of our resources back into the classroom – where they belong. I will engage the community in the budget and exercise full transparency in the process. I will work with community and business leaders to develop goals and objectives that benefit our students and community while eliminating waste.
The sudden firing of Superintendent Pedro Martinez, left the community shaking its head at the WCSD Board. The numerous open meeting law violations, and the subsequent lawsuits from Mr. Martinez and Mr. Mieras resulted in over $800,000.00 in District funds wasted. The controversial contract for Superintendent Davis has further eroded the trust of the public.
It is critical that Board members understand the District policies and applicable statutes. I understand the requirements of following the statues of our state and I will make sure the laws that impact the School Board are followed to avoid costly mistakes.
Schools that are Safe for Teachers, Students and Staff
Our first job is to provide a safe place for students to learn and teachers to teach. Having dedicated more than for 30 years to protecting our community, I will make it a priority that our schools provide a safe learning environment for our children that is free from violence, drugs, bullying and harassment.
We need to work closely with our District's police officers, local law enforcement, teachers, and administrators to ensure that every student goes to school in a safe, positive environment.
The Washoe County School District has slowly eliminated most vocational-trade programs. The projected growth in Washoe County and the State of Nevada will required skilled tradespeople to meet these needs. We need to expand vocational-trade education. It is my goal to partner the Washoe County School District with Truckee Meadows Community College and the University of Nevada Reno to implement vocational training that once completed would qualify for college credit.
We need to foster more internships, work-study programs and apprenticeship possibilities with local businesses. These business-school connections are a prime attraction for economic development in our State. If we give students the ability to be vocationally prepared, we will drive business growth since we will provide skilled well educated workers for the new jobs in our community.
Support for our Teachers
Of all the work that occurs at every level of our education system, the interaction between teacher and the student is one of the primary determinants of student success. The many talented and dedicated people who educate our children every day deserve our respect and support.
We cannot continue to pay the exorbitant salaries for superintendents and administrative staff when we have a teacher shortage. We must allocate funding to address the shortage and retain our highly educated and qualified teachers. Graduation and State rankings must improve. The teacher is our first line of offense to make sure that happens.
Full-time residence in Washoe County: Reno
How long you have been a resident within District A: 16
Current occupation: As a member of the Nevada Governor's Office, my day-to-day job is to develop forward-thinking policies that benefit Nevadans, communicate with citizens on legislative initiatives, and work with private industry and public entities on capital projects.
Formal education: Bachelor's Degree, Journalism, University of Nevada Reno.
Current and previous political/governmental experience: I served 6 years as a U.S. Army paratrooper and 5 years in the Nevada Army National Guard, leaving honorably in 2005 with the rank of Staff Sergeant. My service includes peacekeeping missions in Bosnia, Haiti, and Kosovo, and support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The military gave me a love for public service, and since 2005 I have served on boards and committees for Greater Nevada Credit Union, Junior Achievement, Regional Transportation Commission, Renown, Sierra Arts Foundation, Washoe County, and Washoe County School District.
I'm running for Washoe County School Board District A to rebuild citizen trust and put the focus back on education. Having served alongside others with diverse backgrounds, interests, and perspectives, I understand the value of collaboration, deliberation, and responsibility. If elected, I will bring a spirit of cooperation and problem solving to a School Board that has lost its way.
To learn the issues, I spend every day going door-to-door, visiting schools, and speaking to business and civic groups. Here is what I've learned from the citizens:
Incline residents pay significant property taxes and want more accountability from WCSD on how much funding goes to Incline's public schools and how much travels downhill.
Most Incline residents have favorable impressions of educators because they care about students and are hardworking and selfless. Teachers and principals deserve more support from WCSD.
WCSD is top heavy. Upper management decisions are overwhelming educators, increasing administrative burdens, and reducing one-on-one time between students and educators.
Lack of trust. The School Board serves as the highest-level steward of WCSD's values, vision, mission, and resources. This stewardship has suffered, and rebuilding the School Board's relationship with the Incline community will be a major focus for me.
School overcrowding is a major concern. The feeling is that if WCSD's capital needs aren't addressed, the community's ability to attract companies and retain existing companies will suffer. If WCSD moves to double session, the impact on working families will be devastating, the learning environment will deteriorate, and property values will decline. This will hurt most in Reno/Sparks, but the ramifications of overcrowding would be felt Incline Village as well.
To address these and other concerns, one of my first moves on the School Board will be a call for an audit of WCSD's finances. The citizens have legitimate concerns about how funds are being spent, and an audit will provide the School Board an accurate account of WCSD's financial position and performance. I will look for wasteful spending and inefficiencies, and work with my fellow trustees to streamline operations and increase transparency.
My background and experience lends itself well to the position of School Board Trustee. As a community leader, I'm an informed decision maker who knows how to achieve community-supported goals. As a member of the Nevada Governor's Office, my day-to-day job includes governance, policymaking, and adhering to open meeting laws. As the father of a 6-year old starting 1st Grade, I have a vested interest in seeing Washoe County School District succeed. As a former U.S. Army paratrooper, I will bring a can-do attitude to a School Board that is facing monumental challenges with overcrowding and teacher shortages.
I think Incline Village is a wonderful community with unique opportunities and challenges. I would be honored to serve as your Trustee.
Full-time residence in Washoe County: Bondshire Drive, Reno
How long you have been a resident within District A: 6.5 years
Current occupation: Solo practice attorney
Formal education: Bachelors of Science, Juris Doctorate, Master of Biology
Current and previous political/governmental experience: This is my first time running for office. However, I have previously worked for the Nevada Legislative Counsel Bureau where I drafted education legislation and regulations and sat as Committee Counsel to the Senate Education Committee and Interim Education Committee. I also worked for the Nevada Attorney General's Office acting as Board Counsel to many licensing boards and counsel to Nevada State Agencies.
My name is Colleen Doenges and I am running for the District A seat of the Washoe County School Board. I am running because I want to bring trust, faith and respect back to the Board.
I am the most qualified candidate. Prior to my career as an attorney I was engaged in HIV and Cancer research. I also taught at a junior college. My family and I moved here in 2007 where I worked for the Nevada Legislative Counsel Bureau. I worked there for 6.5 years. During that time I drafted education legislation, regulations and memoranda. I also staffed the Senate Education Committee and the Interim Education Committee. I learned about the various educational issues faced by this State.
After my career at the Legislative Counsel Bureau, I worked for the Nevada Attorney General's Office representing licensing boards and state agencies. I am very familiar with the Open Meeting Law and its requirements. I then decided to open my own practice and have been open for roughly 9 months.
I believe it is time for the residents of Washoe County to have a Board that they can believe in. In my term I look forward to reviewing all the contracts the Board is currently engaged in for compliance with state and federal laws. I also look forward to building new schools to ease the overcrowding issues. I will also address the issue of efficiency within the District. I believe the District can be more efficient and finding those efficiencies is a top priority.
I have four children, one who currently attends a school in the District and one who will be attending in the fall. I want this District to succeed and I have a vested interest in seeing it succeed. I believe we as a community can make this District strong and successful.