Fairfield Ledger

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Neighbors Growing Together | Sep 20, 2018

Candidates vie for school board seat

By Nicole Major, Ledger staff writer | Oct 13, 2017

A group of community members attended the final Fairfield Community School District Candidate Forum Thursday night at the Fairfield Arts & Convention Center’s Stephen Sondhiem Theater for the Performing Arts.

Four candidates are vying for one two-year spot on the school district’s board of directors, and they are Jennifer Anderson, Ben Picard, acting school board member Ryan Kurka and Michael Lane.

The seat came open after the resignation of former school board President Phil Miller, who was recently elected into the Iowa House of Representatives.

The election is Oct. 17.

The convention center, along with the Fairfield Area Chamber of Commerce and the Fairfield Economic Development Association, sponsored the hourlong event.

Andy Hallman, editor of The Fairfield Ledger, moderated the forum.

Each candidate had an opportunity to respond to four questions, which were selected by event organizers and audience members.

“Serving on a school board carries the responsibility of working as a team, and being a steward of tax payer dollars,” Hallman said. “First, give examples demonstrating the type of team member you are. Second, share your experience and knowledge responsibly administering public dollars.”

Picard said that throughout his career in Corporate America, he had scaled up the ladder to become a vice president, and had later founded his own companies.

“I was always involved in sales,” he said, explaining that he had to be involved with every aspect of the business including hiring new employees and building teams.

Although he said he didn’t have any experience with managing public dollars, he said he did have experience with managing corporate dollars.

“I spent 15 years on the Fairfield Fire Department,” Kurka said. “It was always two in and two out.”

Kurka said through his experiences over the years, he had learned to be a team player.

He said that he didn’t deal with money at the fire department, but that a lot of what he does now as an insurance adjuster for Farm Bureau Financial Services, deals with money in the form of payouts, and tracking of where those payments go and how much they are.

“Share your personal experiences and connections with the Fairfield Community School District,” Hallman asked the forum.

“I graduated high school from here,” Anderson said. “I was on the school board from 1993-1999.”

Anderson said that she took time away from the board when she started her family, but she was still very involved with the district from a “parent experience” while her children where young.

Anderson was elected to the school board again when her children were in middle school and high school.

“I find a lot of value in serving ... I try to give back as much as I can,” she said.

Lane said that he had been involved in the Fairfield Community School District from the “first grade ongoing to today.”

Lane said that as a students in Fairfield, he was only away from the district for a brief time period when he attended school in Van Buren County.

He said that he had faced challenges with his upbringing, but that the FCSD was there for him. He mentioned former teacher Dave Messerly, who had a profound impact on his life.

Lane, who served in the military and is currently in a management role at John Deere in Ottumwa, said that his life could have turned out differently if not for the support he received from school district.

“The support that I was given here ... it was nothing except a positive experience,” he said.

The Ledger will have more on this story Monday.

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