AURORA | This November the Cherry Creek School District will have two seats on its board of directors up for election. One of those open seats is in District D, which includes Cherokee Trail and Eaglecrest high schools in its boundaries.
That seat is currently occupied by CCSD Board President Randy Perlis, who is term limited from running again. While the deadline for candidates to register to run for the open seat in District D is still a few months off, there are already two announced candidates to fill Perlis’ empty seat.
Kelly Bates isn’t interested in starting a political career by winning a seat on the CCSD board of directors. A newcomer to politics, Bates said she decided to run as a way to continue to serve the school district that has helped teach her five children. And she has no intention of this being a jumping point for a new career.
“I’m not a politician. I’ve never run for office. I’ve been a stay-at-home-mom for 25 years, but I’ve been doing volunteering with the schools. This is the next step in my service,” Bates said. “Even though it is an elected position, it is not something that should be politicized. It isn’t something that helps you step to next level. It’s something you should do to help the kids and teachers and everyone in our district.”
Bates said her volunteering with CCSD didn’t consist of spending some time in her children’s classroom and helping with field trips. She has served several terms as president of parent teacher organizations for her children schools, did work fundraising for the schools and was recognized twice as Exceptional Volunteer by CCSD.
Along with her experience volunteering with CCSD, Bates has a background in education. A former preschool teacher, she said she ran the educational programs for a daycare center that served more than 200 students.
“I’m running because I believe in the Cherry Creek Schools. I’ve got five kids who have gone through the schools and I’d like for it to remain fiscally responsible,” Bates said. “I think (the board) has been doing a great job. I think the district has been run very well. I want to make sure they’re spending the money on the programs that would benefit all the kids in the district as well as the teachers. We need to make sure teachers are treated very well.”
Matt Snider is quick to point out that he loves the direction the board of directors has steered CCSD in the past. And he wants his candidacy for the open spot in District D to be seen as a way to keep the ship going in the right direction.
“I just want to continue the same style and type of leadership and management (of Perlis),” Snider said. “When something is working well, especially something so complex as the mechanism of a school district that’s the destination school district in the state, you don’t screw it up.”
Snider’s previous attempt at public office was in 2016 when he ran for the state House in District 56 as a Democrat. He lost to Republican Philip Covarrubias.
An ordained deacon with the United Methodist Church, Snider worked in the IT industry in Texas before moving to Colorado. He said his background in business and administering a major benefits plan with thousands of employees gives him experience to draw on if he’s elected to run the fourth largest school district in the state.
Snider said he is running in part because he believes in the vital role public education plays in the overall health of a society. Snider said he and his children are all proud products of the public school system.
A major issue with Snider is preventing the privatization of public schools through things like charter schools. While Cherry Creek only has a handful of charter schools, Snider said he wants to make sure a voice like his is on the board in case future efforts are made.
While his children were grown by the time Snider moved into the CCSD boundaries about six years ago, Snider said he was still called to serve the public school system of his new home, which is why he has served several years on the CCSD Long-Range Facility Planning Committee.
“I believe public education is the cornerstone of personal success if a child and a parent property avail themselves of it,” Snider said. “I was inculcated of the values of public service as a privilege and an honor and a citizen’s responsibility from an early age. I just look for ways to serve.”