Jo Ann Baxter, former Moffat County School Board president and Colorado House District 57 contender, poses for a photo Monday in her Craig home. Baxter threw down the gauntlet for the seat in April, even though she initially had no plans to run for another public office.

Photo by Bridget Manley

Jo Ann Baxter, former Moffat County School Board president and Colorado House District 57 contender, poses for a photo Monday in her Craig home. Baxter threw down the gauntlet for the seat in April, even though she initially had no plans to run for another public office.

Former school board president hones in on HD 57 seat

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At a glance:

Name: Jo Ann Baxter

Age: 71

Residence: Craig

Teaching career:

— 29 years at Moffat County High School, with stints as social studies, psychology, sociology, and economics teacher

— Half-time dean at MCHS for eight years

— Retired in 2003

Moffat County School Board experience:

— Served eight years beginning in November 2003

— School board president from 2005 to 2007 and from 2009 to 2011

— Exited the board in November 2011 due to term limits

After serving eight years on the Moffat County School Board, Jo Ann Baxter intended to step out of the spotlight.

The former school board president, who was term-limited, started writing her memoirs and contemplated drafting a collection of poetry for her grandchildren after she stepped off the board last year, she said.

But life had other plans.

Instead of devoting her time to writing, Baxter is exploring new realms of the Internet as she gears up her campaign for a new career in public life.

“I tweeted for the first time this week,” she said, laughing.

Instead of reflecting on past milestones, she’s looking toward a new chapter that could entail a position in the state legislature.

Baxter announced her candidacy for the House District 57 seat April 19, following urgings from friends and colleagues who encouraged her to run for the office.

She resisted their encouragement at first, she said.

But Baxter, who is running as a Democrat, felt compelled to put in her bid after she learned the HD 57 race would be uncontested, she said.

Ron Roesener, a Republican contender from Parachute, failed to clinch a spot on the primary ballot during the Colorado State Republican Convention in April. The Colorado Democratic Party state assembly also failed to produce a challenger, leaving Republican Bob Rankin of Glenwood Springs unopposed.

“When it turned out that there wasn’t going to be any opposition at all, it made me feel a little bit guilty, especially since I had been encouraged by so many people from Garfield County and from Moffat County,” Baxter said.

The more she has pondered her decision, the more she’s warmed up to the idea of serving at the state level.

“As I’ve thought about it, I’ve gotten more excited about doing it,” she said

If elected, Baxter plans to make economic development one of her top priorities.

“We need a well-educated populace in order to improve our economic status,” she said.

She also plans to focus on water issues, including “how we can avoid depleting our water resources as we develop our production … of our natural resources,” she said.

She plans to draw from her professional experience, which includes two terms as school board president and 29 years as an educator at Moffat County High School.

“It’s probably pretty obvious that education’s going to be a top priority for me because that’s my life’s work,” she said.

School funding concerns, both for K-12 schools and colleges are "critical issues that we have to find some solutions for,” Baxter said.

Implementing the provisions of Colorado Senate Bill 10-191 also is crucial, she said.

Baxter has in-depth experience with this piece of legislation, designed to implement a statewide system for evaluating teachers and principals. She serves on the State Council for Educator Effectiveness, which offers recommendations to the Colorado State Board of Education regarding SB 191.

Her resume also includes terms on the Colorado Association of School Boards’ legislative committee and the Colorado Education Association Board.

“Legislative issues that involve education are Jo Ann’s passion,” said Sandie Johns, Moffat County School Board president.

“And I don’t know anybody in the world who’s more passionate about our government, about the educational process, and … politics in general.”

Johns is confident that her former colleague is the right person for the legislative seat.

“She’s a strong lady and she can do this job,” Johns said. “There is no doubt in my mind.”

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Comments

TSnyder 2 years, 7 months ago

Well said Sandie! JoAnn, thank you for throwing your hat in the ring. I can't think of a better person for the job!!!

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AlMoncrief 2 years, 7 months ago

THE GREAT COLORADO PENSION HEIST OF 2010: DIAGNOSIS, “LEGISLATIVE SCHIZOPHRENIA.”

If two contradictory positions peacefully coexist in the mind of an individual that person is schizophrenic, but is it possible for an entire organization to exhibit schizophrenia? Be the judge.

The Colorado General Assembly has recently endorsed the following two public policy positions:

1 - “Colorado is in a fiscal crisis, Colorado PERA pension contracts must be breached!”

2 - “Colorado is not in a fiscal crisis, we are free to grant $100 million in property tax relief!”

How is it that this glaring inconsistency is readily apparent to me, but cannot force its way into the minds of our state legislators?

In 2000, Colorado voters amended Article X of the Colorado Constitution to allow the General Assembly, at its discretion, to exempt up to $100,000 of the value of a qualifying senior’s home from property taxation. Tax relief under the amendment is optional.

In the coming years, judges may legitimately ask “Why should the state of Colorado be permitted to breach its contractual pension obligations in years that it has provided discretionary tax relief, ignored its annual required contributions, or directed state resources to pension obligations that are not its own?”

How can the Colorado Attorney General argue with a straight face that it is “actuarially necessary” for Colorado to breach its pension contracts, when the state is giving back tax revenue, ignoring its annual required contributions, and voluntarily paying pension obligations for other governmental entities?

The Colorado General Assembly distills the political preferences of all Coloradans. Our character is reflected in their actions, by observing the Legislature we know ourselves better.

So, who are we? The verdict is ugly. Collectively, through our elected representatives, it appears that we will commit fraud when it is financially opportune. We will construct elaborate rationalizations for outright theft. We will abandon our contractual obligations when convenient. We will be distinguished by our moral laxity.

To follow developments in the Colorado pension theft lawsuit sign up as a Friend of Save Pera Cola on Facebook.

Have your friends sign up as Friends of Save Pera Cola. Copy this post and e-mail it to PERA members and retirees you know.

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