Getting to know 3 of the District 51 school board candidates

Here's a look at why new candidates are running for a spot on the board.
Published: Sep. 21, 2023 at 5:49 PM MDT
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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) - A new era begins for the District 51 school board. Two of its current members, Doug Levinson, District A, and Kari Sholtes, District B, are not running for reelection. That means those two spots will need to be filled come November. To answer the call, Jose Luis Chavez, Jessica Hearns, and Barbara Evanson are 3 of the 5 candidates running. Luis Chavez and Hearns are running for District A, and Evanson for District B.

A public service background is a current theme with these candidates. Luis Chavez, a former parole officer and Grand Junction native, said, “I believe public education accepts all youth and I think that’s important no matter what your race, social class, gender, or disability is they will accept you.”

“Public education provides you with a positive opportunity with positive growth,” he added. When asked if he would’ve supported the new clinic and the new Grand Junction High School he said, “Our youth is saying that we need this. It isn’t a want, it’s a need, so I am totally in favor of a school-based health center.”

His opponent Jessica Hearns is a former professor at Colorado Northwestern Community College, and said, “I have lived my whole life being told citizens should run for office and a community can work only if people put time and effort into it. That’s just what I want to do, and I live here and there is an open seat and I’d like to be on it,” she added.

District B candidate Barbara Evanson, a former Marine, has only one other opponent for her District. When asked why she’s running she said, “I want these kids to feel safe 100% of our kids to feel safe and I want these kids to have a good healthy educational environment so they can feel safe.” As far as the clinic at the new Grand Junction High School, she has some concerns. “I think without having further conversation and ensuring that the parents are going to be involved, I would have said no at that time.” She went on to say that if parents are completely involved in their kids decisions, she would be on board for the clinic.

All of the board members are allowed a total of 2, four-year terms. That means a total of eight years per member. For more information on the candidates and qualifications, you can visit this link.