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Our View: Durango School District 9-R election

Brown, Petersen and Parmenter for the school board

At the national level, American politics is a dumpster fire of conspiracy theories, paranoia and misinformation. The last thing we need is to invite even a little bit of that into our local school board.

Vote for Erika Brown, Rick Petersen and Andrea Parmenter.

That is not to say the other four are all wingnuts. One has impressive credentials and is clearly qualified. The other three, however, raise disturbing questions.

The first is Catherine Mewmaw. She is an educated professional with experience in teaching and appears to be well-qualified. But she is running against present board member Brown and Mewmaw’s fine qualities are not in themselves sufficient reason to unseat a competent and successful incumbent.

The other three, running as a slate styled “Building Durango’s Future,” are another matter.

Also running against Brown is Kristina Paslay, a hairstylist who is a parent, but with no other relevant experience. Running in District E is Donna Gulec, also a parent, who has used home schooling, charter schools, study abroad programs and Durango schools to educate her children. She told the Herald that the “district did not meet my children’s needs.” What those needs were is unclear.

The third is Richard “Dean” Hill, a Durango native running in District C against Petersen. He deserves fuller explanation.

On its website, the group Save9R has video of Hill railing against the concept of separation of church and state, which he says is “a lie.” Hill further says the constitution includes no such thing.

If he means the constitution does not include the exact words “separation of church and state” he is correct. But it does say that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” And “free exercise” does not mean imposing your views on others. What Hill is preaching about church and state is dangerous nonsense that has no place in American society, let alone in 9-R schools.

There does not appear to be a record of Paslay and Gulec saying anything as outrageous, but their willingness to run with him as a slate is telling. A further giveaway is that their “registered agent” is Marge Klein, who has also served as treasurer for Rep. Lauren Boebert – our congresswoman – who ranks right up there with the most extreme right-wing members of Congress.

Also telling is that all three seem concerned about masks and critical race theory. But masks are a harmless precaution against an epidemic. And critical race theory – unless that is defined as teaching history – has nothing to do with 9-R.

Mewmaw should try again when we have a more normal school board election. District 9-R could use her talent and experience.

For now, though, the most important thing is to keep our toxic national politics away from 9-R students. Let them have an education free of hatred and full of fairness, freedom and equity – along with reading, writing, science and math.

Vote for Erika Brown, Rick Petersen and Andrea Parmenter.