With two weeks until the Moffat County School Board selects a new superintendent, the co-president of the Moffat County Education Association said the organization is not backing any candidate but that he is impressed with all three.
Craig Smith, who along with Michele Conroy heads the MCEA, said that when he and four other MCEA members interviewed the candidates, he was impressed. However, he was not ready to make a decision.
"It's not our mission, so to speak, to give recommendations," Smith said. "We simply asked questions and formed opinions based on the answers. That has no direct bearing on what the (Moffat County) School Board will do."
MCEA members interviewed candidates Christine Villard, Dennis Wilson, and Joseph Petrone last week. Pete Bergmann, the current superintendent of Moffat County, is retiring at the end of the year.
"We had each one all to ourselves for about an hour last Wednesday, Thursday and Friday," Smith said, adding that results of the interviews were not shared. "We didn't confer with our outcomes - we didn't share what we'd written down."
MCEA, which represents almost 180 teachers throughout the school district, does not make recommendations for superintendent, Smith said.
"It was not our responsibility to make recommendations, and we feel that we accomplished what we set out to do," Smith said. "We didn't rank them in order or anything like that - that's not something that we would normally do."
MCEA was impressed with the candidates.
"I think I can speak for the rest of the committee when I say that these are three outstanding candidates," he said. "Each has their own unique qualities, and we feel we could work with all three of them - especially when it comes to the pertinent issues of the association."
One of the most important issues for MCEA is the ability to negotiate contracts, and all three candidates would be easy to work with, Smith said.
"(The right choice) wouldn't be afraid to meet with us, and all three exhibited a willingness to do that," he said. "I feel that when we have contract negotiations we'd be able to work with all three."
Smith said he was impressed with all three candidates but that none of the candidates' experience stood out to the association.
"It takes experience to negotiate, and none specifically showed that type of experience, which isn't scary for us," Smith said. "In fact, that could work to the advantage of the association. Most of the people in the association are tried and tested when it comes to negotiations."
All three candidates met criteria MCEA was looking for, Smith said.
"We're looking for someone who's willing to sit across the table and have an open and honest discussion and eventually hash out a contract," he said.