13 Candidates

So many forums, so little time…

We have 3 recalls on the ballot and 13 candidates this year. Our endorsed candidates are highlighted in blue. We just thought you might like to see a few of our notes on what was said at some of these forums and meetings  As we noted in 2013, very few people attended forums. It was better this year but certainly not what it should be.


District 1

Brad Rupert

  • Noted educators were being devalued and treated inappropriately
  • Gave example of his own principal leaving for Boulder
  • Noted Jeffco has reputation for best teachers and most experienced leadership
  • Noted no organization can be successful with high turnover of leadership and high performers
  • Yes on Charters
  • No on Vouchers
  • Noted agreement with teachers needs to be extended
  • Advocated to engage teachers as partners


Julie Williams

  • Claimed she has been viciously attacked at nearly every forum
  • Believes that poor parents just need to be invited to participate in their schools
  • Talked about kids failing for six months because a “program” had to be purchased, no info
  • Claimed armed guards came to a special ed committee meeting to keep parents on the committee from asking questions
  • Talks of her involvement on the SEAC (Special Education Advisory Committee) but then claims that the committee never met
  • Called PTA a liberal organization
  • Odd moment when she stopped suddenly and said “who ya gonna call?!” – left the viewers perplexed as to what she was trying to relay. This must have been part of messaging as Witt used the same line at another forum.
  • Wants common core removed
  • Yes on Vouchers
  • Data tracking system similar to Douglas County mentioned
  • Claimed building schools “without raising taxes behind your backs”
  • Noted testing is “indoctrinating students”
  • Asked why district security couldn’t just drive “a regular Taurus” – forgetting the geographic complexities in Jeffco
  • Has advocated for arming teachers
  • Yes on Charters
  • Takes credit for staff work as well as previous administration while current data not even available


District 2

Susan Harmon

  • Noted concerns on teachers leaving district
  • Noted SBB great for schools with resources and parent involvement but not so for school communities with low parental involvement
  • Noted SBB not answer for full day kindergarten and access for free and reduced families
  • Yes on Charters
  • No on Vouchers
  • Noted agreement with teachers should be extended and needs to be done right


Matt Dheiux

  • Advocated for all kids, not just groups
  • Noted concerns for politics in schools
  • Concern for free full day kindergarten due to SBB
  • Noted politics divide community
  • Yes on Charters
  • No on Vouchers


John Newkirk

  • Repeats nearly word for word what one of his board appointees tweets
  • Claimed credit for staff work repeatedly
  • Fan of local control (is a private school parent making decisions for public school parents local control?)
  • Noted we have over 128 schools (we have 155 and Newkirk should know this after serving the district for 2 years)
  • Claimed they enhanced safety – not true at all! No action was even taken until last week’s meeting when Jill Fellman had been advocating for this for months
  • Opening speech at one forum had him claiming a 15% raise for teachers
  • Has advocated for arming teachers
  • Participated in bullying a minor Jeffco student
  • Yes on charters – according to Courier interview believes we should have more than 50 or 60
  • No on Vouchers (wouldn’t answer this in 2013)
  • Takes credit for staff work as well as previous administration while current data not even available


District 3

Ali Lasell

  • Gave example of Gold Crown Foundation in engaging poor families and giving them resources
  • Advocated for all kids rather than just groups
  • Noted fiscal outlook on school funding state-wide as a concern
  • Lots of insight in how policy meets the classroom
  • Yes on Charters
  • No on Vouchers
  • Noted 10 month agreement with teachers was insulting


Kim Johnson

  • Advocated for engaging poor families but gave no examples of how to do this
  • Advocated to increase GT student funding
  • Yes on Charters
  • No on Vouchers


District 4

Amanda Stevens

  • Noted all kids and all groups for consideration, not singular
  • Advocated that tests should be used as tools to aid in teaching
  • Advocated respect for teachers
  • Yes on Charters
  • No on Vouchers

Tori Merritts

  • Claims to be the only experienced board member
  • Minimalized parents who were serving on committees such as SPAC and claimed we were hand-picked
  • Yes on Charters
  • No on Vouchers


District 5

Ron Mitchell

  • “The truth is the first casualty in politics”
  • Cautioned community that results and evidence are not available yet with Jefferson and Alameda changes, needs to be watched
  • Advocated for proper school funding
  • Noted that SBB needs to be evaluated at end of first year as it is new program
  • On creating a welcoming environment, he noted that this starts at the top
  • Noted district behind on building schools for overcrowding issues and projections
  • Yes on Charters
  • No on Vouchers
  • Teacher agreement needs to be reviewed, get it right with proper negotiations and then extend


Paula Noonan

  • Gave example of Fairfax County, Virginia (one of wealthiest and best funded school districts in the Country) for example on helping free and reduced children
  • Advocated for better school funding
  • Advocating for ALL testing to be eliminated
  • Yes on Charters
  • No on Vouchers


Regan Benson

  • Claims she listens and puts kids first
  • Very concerned with truancy and juvenile justice system
  • Equated poor kids and truancy being similar issue
  • Claimed district guilty of abusive spending
  • Potshots at other candidates during forums
  • No on immunizations
  • Noted 2012 bond not enough but did not relay that she didn’t support 2012 bond at all
  • Yes on Charters
  • Supports Pay for Performance and competition amongst schools
  • Does not support any teacher agreement
  • Noted that she does not believe teachers are leaving


Ken Witt

  • Proud of “aggressively implementing reforms” and thinks this shows leadership
  • Took credit for Jefferson and Alameda plans although this was work of district staff
  • Took credit for SBB (student based budgeting) even though McMinimee points out repeatedly that the program was started by previous administration
  • Attempted to take credit for SPAC’s work with school accountability committees (as past Chair, I can confirm that was committee work and verifiable in our meeting minutes and plans – he also NEVER attended a committee meeting or a steering committee meeting)
  • Said that parents don’t have a voice yet voted to eliminate all parents serving on SPAC committee
  • Noted his work on rejecting the district Unified Improvement Plan and noted that previously the committees just rubber stamped everything (apparently not realizing the email below existed and that as chair of SPAC I relayed concern personally)
  • Participated in bullying a minor Jeffco student
  • Yes on Charters
  • Takes credit for staff work as well as previous administration while current data not even available



A few other items of clarification due to rumors that are floating around – no one has ever stated that they would cut funding to Charters OR to Gifted and Talented as has been claimed on some pages. Every single candidate stated that they would NOT cut that funding.

Additionally, because a few individuals have made claims about what SJK stands for:

  • We do not oppose charters. In fact, we actually have several charter and option school parent volunteers.
  • We do not oppose choice.
  • We do not oppose GT funding.
  • We DO oppose violations of open meetings laws as well as board and district policies.
  • We DO oppose board actions that are in direct opposition to the desires of the community, such as the priorities in the community budget surveys in 2014 and 2015.
  • We DO oppose the board majority meeting secretly.
  • We DO oppose the board wasting tax dollars on their own attorney.
  • We DO oppose the way the attorney was hired – without a price, without a discussion, without community input, without a contract, without a memorandum of understanding, without a description of duties, etc.
  • We DO oppose the lack of respect shown to the community by the Board Majority
  • We DO oppose the rude behavior of the Board Majority, specifically Ken Witt, during Board Meetings.


Support Jeffco Kids 2015 Endorsements:

SJK has previously endorsed the Recall Campaigns:

Recall Ken Witt

Recall John Newkirk

Recall Julie Williams


District 3 –  (Vacated by Jill Fellman)  4 year term

Ali Lasell – http://alilasell.com

SJK is proud to say we know Ali Lasell well.  She worked this past year as a Support Jeffco Kids Volunteer Coordinator, she’s been involved in our community outreach, attended board meetings, and played a leadership role in her own  Maple Grove school community when Board Majority member John Newkirk proposed his Wheat Ridge Plan B without input from the impacted communities.


District 4 – (Vacated by Les Dahlkemper) 4 year term

Amanda Stevens – http://amandaforjeffcoschools.com

As a Parent in Jeffco, Amanda Stevens has first hand experience with the impact on the district, the Jeffco Community and in her own children’s school, Kendrick Lakes Elementary, as a result of of the questionable and extreme decisions made by the current board majority.   She has been actively involved in Jeffco School’s Strategic Planning & Advisory Council (SPAC) and is active on the accountability committee, PTA and as a classroom volunteer.   She brings a voice for parents and students -something desperately needed in the new board.


Replacement Candidates for Recall Seats

District 1 – Recall Julie Williams

Replacement Candidate:  C. Brad Rupert – 2 year term


With two decades of community service, Brad has been involved with Habitat for Humanity, the Arvada Chamber of Commerce, the Arvada Community Food Bank, and the Kiwanis Club of Arvada-Jefferson. His leadership and commitment to his community earned him the Arvada Man of the Year Award in 2011.  His own children graduated from Ralston Valley H.S., and his s tep-grandchildren attend Arvada High School and North Arvada Middle School.

“Political agendas have no place on this school board.”
District 2 – Recall John Newkirk

Replacement Candidate:  Susan Harmon – 2 year term


Susan is an attorney and independent business women, and has two children in Jeffco schools.  She has served on her children’s schools’ PTA  board for six years,  served as chair on the elementary school accountability committee and volunteers at her local elementary and middle school.

“I am running so I can share my passion, knowledge, and firsthand experience with all stakeholders and work collaboratively to make sure all kids have the opportunities my kids have had.”


District 5 – Recall Ken Witt

Replacement Candidate:  Ron Mitchell – 2 year term


Ron worked in Jefferson County Schools for forty years, served as principal of Alameda High School for ten years and served eight years as the principal of Columbine, and worked in the central office for two years.

Ron lists his priorities as: Bring respect back to the boardroom; Involve the Jeffco community in governing our schools; Work collaboratively with all board members to make our schools a source of pride for Jeffco residents; Work to ensure a quality education for all students.


Though we are not endorsing, we appreciate the position of Candidate Matt Dhieux. In his communication to us, he expressed a true interest in public education.