Three seats open on school board

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By Jennifer Garcia

The November elections are over, but not for the Los Alamos school board, which has three seats up for grabs on Feb. 1.
The District 4 seat, held by Kevin Honnell; the District 5 seat held by Joan Ahlers; and the District 3 seat held by Jody Benson are up for election.
District 4 covers the Barranca Mesa, Western area, Quemazon and a good part of North Community, while District 5 covers the North Mesa and Ponderosa areas. Benson’s district covers the Eastern area, Aspen Elementary and most of the Los Alamos town site.
Each seat terms out at four years and Los Alamos Public Schools have a staggered election, which means that not all five seats come up for election at the same time.
“It just so happens that it’s the three positions in the Los Alamos town proper that are open for this election,” Honnell said. “The two White Rock elections will be up in two years.”
Current Board President Melanie McKinley and Board Member Thelma Hahn occupy the White Rock seats. School board members must live in the district for which they are running.
This is Honnell’s first time on the school board and said he’s planning to run for reelection because he feels educating the children of Los Alamos is the “noblest thing we do as a community.”
“It is also an endeavor beset by significant financial and political pressures. I am running for school board to work collaboratively with our citizens — students, parents, teachers, community members and elected officials — to ensure that educational excellence remains a hallmark of LAPS,” Honnell said.
He also wants to advocate for a well-rounded curriculum that includes fine arts, athletics and the practical arts and ensure that every student, regardless of ability, is developed to his or her full potential.
“ … And to foster a workplace where we can continue to attract and retain the most inspiring and innovative educators,” he said.
Ahlers and Benson will not seek reelection. It’s not clear why Ahlers will not run again, but Benson said that she’s not running because of the time required to be on the school board.
“It’s been incredibly rewarding. I want to thank the community,” Benson said. “I never thought I’d get on the school board. I want to thank the community for giving me that opportunity. It’s been a great experience. It’s the best.”
This is the first time Benson’s been on the school board but said there’s still “a whole lot more to learn.” She said that the incoming school board members will be working with education issues, rather than working on the budget and other issues.
Those who wish to run for the school board must file a declaration of candidacy at the county courthouse by 5 p.m. Dec. 21. Dec. 28 marks the deadline for declaration of school board write-in candidates, while Jan. 4 marks the deadline for registration of voters for the school board election. Absentee and early voting will be from Jan. 7-28.