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Candidates for school board take questions

October 8, 2018

BULLHEAD CITY — Accountability is one of the most important aspects of serving on the local high school district governing board, according to some board candidates.

Others touted their experience in running schools, building budgets or leadership as why they should be elected.

Half of the eight candidates for three seats on the Colorado River Union High School District governing board attended the forum Saturday, hosted by the Bullhead Area Chamber of Commerce and the Mohave County Republican Central Committee.

Eva Corbett said she has six points on which her campaign is built — accountability, transparency, the fieldhouse (a new district-owned athletics and instruction building under construction), setting up volunteer mentor programs, safety and expansion of career and technical education programs.

Royanne Ortiz thinks there needs to be an improvement in the level of accountability to students and taxpayers, she said.

She also said that CRUHSD students don’t seem to be performing as well as their peers, and that she’s interested in finding solutions.

Laureen Davidson, one of two incumbents in the race, said the board has saved the district money by consolidating services with the Bullhead City Elementary School District. She also spoke of the need to balance the desire to share information with the public with the requirements of state law.

“Transparency sounds good,” Davidson said. “You have things you want to be transparent about, but you can’t, because it’s illegal.”

An audience question about the fieldhouse drew disparate responses. The challengers were asked whether they would have voted to put the $35-million bond issue — for the arena and campus improvements at Mohave and River Valley high schools — on the ballot.

Ortiz said that she doesn’t have the information available to board members at the time, so she’s not certain how she would have voted.

“We have to take the attitude that this is a done deal,” Ortiz said. “We just have to make it work. Get the public involved and let them know how the money is being spent.”

The presence of thousands of hotel rooms in Laughlin gives the community a chance to make the fieldhouse a sustainable venture, she said.

Corbett said that she would have voted “no” on the proposal.

“I think it’s a tremendous expense,” she said. “A tremendous liability. From a business standpoint, we could use that money somewhere else.”

Pat Young said would have liked to have seen the business plan for the fieldhouse, “but I want to emphasize that it’s a done deal.”

Young said he feels Gary Boren, hired last month as the general manager for the fieldhouse, is a good candidate and gives the project a chance to be successful.

“We got a good manager, and I’m happy with that,” Young said.

Davidson voted to place the bond on the ballot, and was not surprised to see it pass, she said.

Once the voters approved it, the board was obligated to spend the money.

“Once they voted it in, that’s when so many people got angry,” Davidson said, referring to backlash and post-election attempts to derail the fieldhouse.

Young worked for the BHCESD and the CRUHSD as a teacher, assistant principal, principal and district-level administrator. Before working in education, he ran his own business and worked in import-export and sales and marketing, he said.

Young said he was part of the team that streamlined transportation services and that he was among the group that made the hard decision to shut down Mountain View Elementary School when it was no longer financially feasible to run it.

Corbett was a real estate broker in California, where she ran three companies and managed 30 people, and now is an Avon representative with about 200 customers and recently was appointed to the Bullhead City Franchise License Commission.

Ortiz worked 22 years for a U.S. Navy contractor, then seven years as a homeowners association manager. She said that those positions gave her experience with budgets of millions of dollars.

Davidson helped run her father’s Southern California business, a marine electrical contractor, alongside her siblings and husband. She also has been a Girl Scout leader and a religious education teacher, she said.

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