Hayden election has multiple contested races for 1st time in years

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Laurie Hallenbeck

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Vance Fulton

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Darren Zehner

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Tim Frentress

Hayden School Board candidates

District A

Tim Frentress

Family: Wife, Tena; three sons graduated from the district; grandchildren, Daylon, 9, Liam, 7, and Grady, 4, attend Hayden schools

Job: Control specialist at the Hayden Station power plant, part-time rancher and part-time bus driver for the district

Hayden connection: Fourth-generation Hayden resident

Darren Zehner

Family: Wife, Jennifer; daughter, Olivia, in eighth grade at Hayden Middle School; son, Dakota, 15, is a sophomore at the high school; and Billy, 18, graduated from the high school last year

Job: District captain for TIC overseeing two pilots and the company's corporate aircraft

Hayden connection: Born and raised in Hayden, returned full time in 2003

District B

Vance Fulton

Family: Wife, Sue; son, Ben, senior at Hayden High School

Job: Engineering technician with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service office in Steamboat Springs

Hayden connection: Born in Hayden and attended the district's schools, returned full time in 1991

Laurie Hallenbeck

Family: Husband, Dennis; son, Richard, fourth-grader at Hayden Valley Elementary School; daughter, Emily, a 2007 Soroco High School graduate

Job: Works full time at Mountain Valley Bank and part time at Wolf Mountain Pizza

Hayden connection: Resident for 24 years

— There's an interesting wrinkle to this year's Hayden School Board race: Four candidates are vying for two seats.

The candidates, all longtime Hayden residents, can't remember when there was this much interest in the School Board. Neither can board member Kurt Frentress, who's served since 1995.

Tim Frentress and Darren Zehner are vying for the District A seat being vacated by Patty Bruchez. Bruchez, who had spent the past eight years on the board, is not seeking re-election. And Laurie Hallenbeck is challenging incumbent Vance Fulton for the District B seat.

Board President Brian Hoza, who represents District E, is seeking election for the third time. He and Kurt Frentress, who represents District C, are running unopposed.

Kurt Frentress said he was surprised by the interest for the School Board, which he called a "pretty thankless job" that normally doesn't generate much fanfare. Frentress said he suspected the races were contested because the community is concerned about how things are operating within the district.

He said when times are good, people don't show as much interest as they do when times aren't going as well and tough decisions need to be made.

"It's not a bad thing," Frentress said. "It's a good thing more people are running and want to be involved. The more people you have taking an active interest (in the school district) is always a good thing."

District A

Darren Zehner said his involvement with Hayden's schools has increased as he's become more active with his children's activities. He said he wanted to get more involved and to help determine where the schools are heading.

Zehner said his experience as a manager and pilot would be an asset to the School Board.

"I have a number of ideas, with my background, to help guide (the district) for a better future in terms of education for our kids," he said.

For instance, Zehner said much of his career has involved computer training and using computer programs. Zehner said he would emphasize the importance of computer-based learning because computers only will be a bigger part of education in the future.

His opponent, Tim Frentress, has said his previous experience as a Town Board member would be an asset to the School Board. Frentress couldn't be reached for comment for this story. He previously said his familiarity with budgets, especially with tight budgets expected for the next several years, would assist the district.

District B

Hallenbeck, who's never held public office, said she decided to run because she thought it was her time to get more directly involved in the school district. She said she's attended meetings for years, and instead of voicing her opinion to the board, she wants to be a part of it.

Hallenbeck said she didn't run in the past because until recently, she was happy with the way the School Board made decisions. But with the recession, she said she's seen spending on things that didn't make sense to her. Hallenbeck said the district spent money on signs at schools and paint to redo parking lot lines while cutting teachers' budgets.

"We need to put our money where it needs to be to help the kids," she said. "I think people are unhappy with the superintendent (Greg Rockhold). That's what I'm hearing. I'm not happy. It's not just parents and teachers, but the whole community."

Fulton, who was appointed to the board in 2007, said he thought part of the increased interest in this year's race related to Rockhold, but he's not pointing a finger at the superintendent.

"He's trying to make budget decisions and decisions that have to be made that aren't popular," Fulton said. "Cuts have been made, and cuts had to be made, and it's probably going to negatively affect someone."

Fulton said he doesn't have an agenda but after learning the ropes for the past two years would like to continue on the board. He said it's important for school boards to function as teams, and during his tenure, the board has developed that. That's important with tough decisions for the district in the years ahead, Fulton said.

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