School voice candidates views at forum

A forum to hear from eight candidates vying for seats on the Livingston School District board of trustees was held Tuesday evening at the City-County Complex.

Each candidate gave opening statements for one minute and introduced themselves to the assembled audience of about 50 people.

Then, written questions from the audience were delivered by moderator John Gannon to the candidates, who had 90 seconds to respond. Topics of discussion included school finances, banned books, pandemic policy, parental involvement, talent shortage and even gender identity.

In the Elementary District, four candidates — Robin Addicott, Eric Bueling, Kim King and Timothy Sundling — are competing for two open three-year terms, and two candidates — Signe Lahren and Rick Allen — are running for one three-year term.

In the High School District, two candidates — Luke Jergenson and Mark Schulein — are running for one three-year term.

Addicott and Schulein are both incumbents. Everyone else is a newcomer. All candidates will be on the ballot except for Allen, who is a write-in candidate.

The election is on May 3. The polls for the Elementary District trustee election will be open from noon to 8 pm in the Park High School RecPlex. Absentee ballots for the Elementary District were mailed last week.

The High School District is a mail-in ballot only election. Those ballots went out Monday. All absentee and mail ballots must be returned by 8 pm on election day.

The candidate’s forum was conducted by the Livingston Education Association and the K-5 Parent Teacher Organization.

Following is information on the candidates and quotes from their contribution at the Tuesday forum.

Eric Buelling

Age: 38

Occupation: HVAC service technician, Core Control

Education: Degree in philosophy, Montana State, 2010 Family: Wife, one son

Notable quotes: “This is a brand new experience for me and I am impressed and humbled by the quality of the candidates … I will bring temperance to the dialogue and work for the good of the kids … I have a very high opinion of the Livingston School District.”

Kim King

Age: 52

Occupation: Business owner, Advanced Wastewater Specialists

Education: Some college, University of Cincinnati

Family: Husband, three children

Notable quotes: “I have lived in Livingston for 30 years and I will inject some new energy into the board … I think the district did an amazing job during the pandemic to keep our children educated … I have a heart for kids and have spent a lot of times in bleachers and stands … I see an opportunity to heal some pain that the community has been through with COVID-19.”

Robin Addicott

Age: 51

Occupation: Operations director at Park County Environmental Council

Education: Degree in speech communications, Montana State university, 1993

Family: Husband, two children

Notable quotes: “I believe in giving back to the community… I value public education… I care deeply about the staff and our teachers and administrators. We are very blessed and have some amazing people in our buildings… I don’t think any books should be banned… We need to understand people from different perspectives. I tell my children to walk a mile in other people’s shoes.”

Luke Jergenson

Age: 45

Occupation: Retired Rancher

Family: Wife, three children

Education: Bachelor’s degree, University of Northwestern, St. Paul, 1999

Notable quotes: “I’m a strong advocate of parental involvement. Parents need to be involved and I love to get involved … I did not support how the school district handled the pandemic. I did not support the masking policy. I felt like school was closed too much and the students got behind. It could have been handled better… I believe gender is assigned at birth.”

Tim Sundling

Age: 55

Occupation: Cattle rancher

Family: Wife, one son

Education: Finance degree, Montana State University, 1991

Notable quotes: “I believe in fiscal responsibility… I will bring transparency to the board, if elected… Raise your kids, work hard and believe in the future… I love Park High football, basketball, track and FFA.”

Sign Lahren

Age: 54

Occupation: Real estate broker, Berkshire Hathaway Family: Husband, two children

Education: Political science degree, University of Washington, 1990; law degree, University of Montana, 1995

Notable quotes: “Our community is changing so much. It’s important to work together. Diversity is critical for the board … Decisions being made by the board need to be transparent and collaborative … What kids see on their phones is way worse than what’s in our library … We may not always agree, but you better be listening to people who don ‘t agree with you.”

Mark Schulein

Age: 58

Occupation: Family physician

Family: Wife, three children

Education: Medical school, University of Colorado, 1990; Dartmouth 1985

Notable quotes: “I’d like to continue building the good work that the school district is doing and continue giving back to the community…. I’m committed to education… Some of the challenges we face are funding and facilities. We need to evaluate our facilities … Coming out of the pandemic, we need to catch up on the lost learning and lost progress by the students.”

Rick Allen

Age: 71

Occupation: Real Estate

Education: Journalism degree, University of Georgia, 1973

Family: Two daughters

Notable quotes: “Keep all books, even Dr. Seuss … I believe parents are the final authority on what children are taught, and how they are taught … I believe our children are our greatest resource … I believe in the right portions and seeds of creativity, learning, positivity, imagination and patriotism, that should be entwined into a loving, passionate teaching experience and environment that leads to the best possible results.”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.