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SCHOOL BOARD: 8 New Candidates Vying For Spots

Nothing is easy about this job, even the yard signs are a challenge.

“Hardest part is finding a soft spot in the ground!” laughs north sider, Ed Linebach.

Think of what’s ahead – a chance at piloting the state’s largest, most diverse school district – one rocked by scandal and money problems.

It’s hard not to ask “why in the world?”

“Being on the school board is something I set as a goal about four years ago,” said at-large candidate, Shane Schulte.

“There were a group of people who came to me and asked me to run for the school board,” said Toussaint Cheatom, a candidate in Des Moines 2nd district.

“Everything I’ve done has been about children,” said Linebach, also running in District 2.

“I think the board can engage parents and community members in a better way,” said at-large candidate, Rob Barron, a Beaverdale resident.

These challengers all have regular jobs, but all hear a new calling. Some to teach a lesson.

“Sometimes we’re buying things that we really can’t afford,” said Darlene Blake, another at-large candidate.

Others to provide a new voice.

“We’ve never elected a Latino to any citywide office in Des Moines,” said Barron, referring to his Mexican heritage.

All say they’re hearing common concerns along the campaign trail.

“I think there’s a lack of trust in our school board,” Schulte said.

“When people work together so closely for such a long period of time,” Blake said, “pretty soon they start to think alike, and I think that’s a very dangerous thing.”

While each calls for change on the board, there is universal support for new superintendent, Tom Ahart.

“I see him out in the school building,” Schulte said, “I see him talking to parents.”

“I think he has more than enough qualifications to be superintendent,” said Linebach.

“I think he’s doing a good job,” added Cheatom.

With longtime board member, Dick Murphy, not running for re-election, there will be at least one new name elected next week, one proud recipient of one of the toughest, most thankless jobs in the state.

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