SD2 Trustee Candidates Speak - KULR-8 Television, Billings, MT

SD2 Trustee Candidates Speak

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In addition to the school bond vote for Billings residents, voters on parts of the Billings West End will also choose a person to represent them on the School District Two Board of Trustees for the coming three years.

While there are three Board of Trustees races for the May 7th election, only one is contested. Voters in Board of Trustees District Seven will choose between incumbent Connie Wardell, or challenger Kevin Toohill.

KULR-8 talked with both Wardell and Toohill on Tuesday. Both touted their experience, as well as their qualities that they say will serve School District Two well.

"I run a business here in Billings. I started a business in 1998." said Toohill.

"I've had 45 years of business experience. A lot of it in property management." said Wardell.

During the interview, Wardell touted her record on the Board of Trustees.

"We've got a Facilities Master Plan pretty nearly done. We'll probably tweak it a little bit before we're finished completely. The demographic study is completed." said Wardell.

Toohill, meanwhile, said he would like to see more planning be made for SD2.

"One of the biggest issues that I've seen over the years is managing by crisis. There seems to be a budgetary crisis or some crisis that comes up every year. I'd like to see more long-range planning done." said Toohill. He went on to say should he be elected, he will work hard to bring harmony to the board.

"I see the real potential to get past that era of sort of infighting and public battles about policy." said Toohill.

Wardell, however, said the board is now working with each other, after a transition period.

"We have a significant number of people -- three of us came on new three years ago. It takes about a year for people to figure out why people are doing what what they're doing, and helping them get it done."

Wardell summed up her priorities.

"We will be focusing on getting the schools built, moving the sixth graders into the Middle Schools, developing our Middle School curriculum. That's where our focus has to be." said Wardell.

Toohill, meanwhile, concluded the interview with his philosophy.

"The business experience that I bring is in budgeting and strategic planning, but that doesn't mean that you should operate the school district like a business. It needs to be operated as a public institution, and make sure that academics is first and foremost." said Toohill.

Contested races for SD2 have not been frequent in recent years. One of the last contested races also involved Wardell. In 2010, she faced two other candidates for her current seat.

Ballots are due May 7th.