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Board trustees won’t seek reelection, newcomers file

by WHITNEY ENGLAND
Whitefish Pilot | March 24, 2021 1:00 AM

Whitefish School Board Trustees Ruth Harrison and Betsy Kohnstamm have decided not to seek reelection, but four newcomers so far have filed to run for their seats on the board.

The deadline to file is Thursday for the May 4 election.

According to Whitefish Schools Business Clerk Lucie Shea, candidates David Diehl, Quincy Bennetts, Emily Morrow and Leanette Kearns had filed for the election as of Monday.

Shea also added that in addition to the four candidates already filed, three additional people have requested paperwork with the intent to file. She said the interest shown from potential candidates is significantly more than most elections in the past.

Filing is still open for interested candidates and paperwork must be completed and submitted to the district office by March 25 at 4:30 p.m. Those interested must provide a declaration of intent and oath of candidacy prior to the deadline, and must be a qualified voter residing in the Whitefish School District boundary.

Harrison and Kohnstamm’s terms both expire in May, and the two trustees are stepping away from the board.

Kohnstamm declined to give a reason for not seeking reelection other than opening up the opportunity to other candidates. Kohnstamm is finishing up her first term on the board as she was elected in 2018 after retiring from a teaching career the year prior.

Harrison is stepping down mainly for personal reasons. Her husband became very ill near the beginning of last year and she explained that although she was facing many challenges associated with his illness, she didn’t want to leave the board mid-term especially during the pandemic.

“I did stay with the board as long as I could to make sure we had some continuity instead of just quitting them cold, because the school board has been my life pretty much for a long time,” Harrison said.

She further explained that her decision was not made lightly, but she has confidence in the process of how the school board is maintained. She is hoping for the best for the board and the new candidates.

“I just hope we find good collaborators to step up and people who have only the best interest of the kids at heart,” she said.

Harrison was first appointed to the board of trustees in 2005, and out of all the current trustees has been on the school board for the most consecutive terms.

Trustees serve in staggered three-year terms and the number of terms a trustee can serve is not limited.

The last day to withdraw from the election and also for a write-in candidate to file is April 1.

Those interested in running for the school board, can contact the Whitefish School District office at 406-862-8643.