AURORA VOTES: School board candidates fend off political labels


AURORA | In the nonpartisan races for the two boards of education serving Aurora, party affiliation isn’t much of an issue, the various candidates say.

In the race for three seats on the Aurora Public Schools Board of Education, four Republicans, two Democrats and one independent are running.

Cathy Wildman, who is seeking a second term on the board, is a registered Republican.

“During my time on the board, my party hasn’t impacted the way I vote,” Wildman said.

But, over the course of her campaigns, Wildman said several voters have asked her what her party is, despite school board races being nonpartisan affairs in Colorado.

Grant Barrett and Monica Colbert are also Republicans and both said they don’t think party affiliation will influence how they would make decisions if they are elected.

“Obviously your party affiliation is part of who you are,” Colbert said. But, while it comes up on the campaign trail, Colbert said her focus on the board would be what’s best for students, not her party affiliation.

Incumbent Dan Jorgensen and newcomer Linda Cerva are registered Democrats.

Jorgensen said he isn’t a person who toes a party line and has approached issues on the board with a focus on students, regardless of where his party stands.

“If it’s good for kids, the politics will be what they are, but that’s the way I’m going to vote,” he said.

Billie Day is not affiliated with any party and said she has found being an independent useful.

“I’ve found that sometimes that makes it easier to discuss the issues with people,” she said.

Michael Donald didn’t return a call for comment. He ran as a Republican for a state House seat in 2014.

In Cherry Creek, three seats on the five-member board are up for election this fall, but just one of those seats is seeing a contested race.

Just one candidate is running in districts A (Eric Parish) and C, where incumbent Dave Willman is running unopposed for re-election.

The race for District B is a much more-crowded affair, and three of the four candidates are Democrats while one is unaffiliated.

David Aarestad said he is a registered Democrat, but was reluctant to discuss party affiliation in a nonpartisan race.

“I don’t really see how its necessary for a nonpartisan race,” he said.

During the campaign, Aarestad said voters haven’t asked about his party affiliation.

Janice McDonald, also a Democrat, said the issue hasn’t come up in her campaign, either.

Vince Chowdhury, who didn’t return a call for comment, ran as a Democrat for a Jefferson County seat in the state House in 2012.

Matt Batcho is the lone unaffiliated candidate in the race for District B.

A few voters have asked about his affiliation, Batcho said, but which party he does or doesn’t align himself hasn’t been an issue.

“I have no idea why they are asking,” he said.