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Bonner County School Board Trustee Candidates

Seven out of nine of the candidates attended the forum to present their viewpoints.

Bonner County School Board Trustee Candidates


by Donna Capurso

Drew McLain (photo: Facebook)

On Tuesday, April 18th, the Bonner County Republican Women hosted a political forum for the Lake Pend Oreille School District and the West Bonner County School District candidates for the Board of Trustees’ election to be held on Tuesday, May 16th. Seven out of nine of the candidates attended the forum to present their viewpoints regarding the school district for the three trustee positions for zones 2, 3 and 5 in BCSD and zones 2 and 4 in West Bonner

County. Each candidate was given time to give a short presentation and then the audience had an opportunity to ask a few questions. Each candidate had a maximum of 8 minutes.

Drew McLain is a candidate for zone 2 in West Bonner County and is unopposed in the upcoming election; he was not at the forum.

David Sears

David Sears, West Bonner County zone 4 Trustee candidate, was the first to speak. He has been a resident of west Bonner County for 11 years and has been active in cub scouts and kids’ soccer. His opponent is Sandy Brower.

When asked about Common Core, he responded that he doesn’t fault the standards but he has a problem with the implementation and the curriculum. Mr. Sears feels that education should come back to the states instead of controlled by the federal government, and then down to the communities. He also feels there is a lack of communication to the public when it comes to the school levies.

David Sears has five children in the public school system. He believes the Headstart program is great. He questions parents’ involvement as they should not use the school system as a “babysitter.” He feels the class size should be

Sandy Brower (Photo: Facebook)

20-30 students but understands that funding is an issue. He is in favor of teacher competition and does not support union involvement. He feels he is open-minded and will look for options regarding school and educational issues. He believes he is the best candidate as he wants what is best for our children.

Sandy Brower, candidate for West Bonner County zone 2 did not attend the forum.

There are 3 zones in the Lake Pend Oreille School District (LPOSD) school board Trustee election. The following are the locations of the zones with access to the zone maps:

Zone 2 is south of the Pend Oreille River, west of Highway 95 and south of Sagle. Click for map. This position is currently held by retiring Trustee Matthew Mire. There are two candidates running for this position: Richard Miller and Gary Suppinger.

Richard Miller

Richard Miller has lived in Bonner County for 20 years. He has been married for 25 years and has a daughter, Brighton, who attended public school, K-12, and graduated from Sandpoint High School with honors and awarded a scholarship from the University of Idaho.  Mr. Miller holds a Master’s degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine and he supports and participates in several local causes. He is currently a small businessman who owns and operates Dr. Splinter’s Woodworks, a flooring and cabinet company out of Sagle since 1997.

Mr. Miller believes that young men lack the work skills, ethics and critical math skills to be successful in the work force. He is running to further promote and support a more flexible and responsive educational experience for those students who are not college bound, but will need employment skills immediately upon graduating from high school. He stated that 44% of students will not have any further post-secondary education and he supports trade schools, P-tech and the FFA.

When asked how he plans to serve in this position, he states “I offer my 40 years of experience as a successful business owner and craftsman to guide and support P-Tech and the restoration of our aging school facilities.  Pro-education and fiscal responsibility supports both our students and community.” He believes there is little transparency for school spending and that the school administration needs to reach out to the public regarding core and budgetary issues. He stated there are 2400 property owners with a mean income of $40,000 and those with fixed incomes have not received a cost of living increase while the school levies keep increasing property taxes.

Gary Suppinger relocated from Illinois and has lived in Bonner County for 25 years. He is married and has three children in public school, K-12. He previously worked for the federal government and Panhandle Forest Products and is currently a small businessman. He has been a math coach volunteer at Sagle Elementary School for 12 years, where the students have participated in math competitions.

Mr. Suppinger believes that students need more opportunities to go further and they need the tools to be successful in our country, state and community as they will be competing with young people all over the country. He stated that he supports the school levies as well as the teachers, programs and curriculum. He believes in quality and accountability. When he was asked about the school district budget he said that he is not an expert on the budget but he is a patron of the school district. He supports rural schools and the superintendent’s budgeted pay as he has a “huge burden” running the school district.

Zone 3: West of Highway 95; north of Sandpoint. Click for map. This seat is held by retiring trustee Joan Fish.  The two candidates for the LPOSD trustee position for zone 3 are Victoria Zeischegg and Lonnie Williams.

Victoria Zeischegg

Victoria Zeischegg has served on a number of local organizations, and currently she is in her sixth year on the board of Bonner County Republican Women, Inc. and in her fifth year as president of the organization.  She also serves as the Baldy Precinct Republican Committeewoman, and is the Bonner County Republican State Committeewoman.  In addition, she volunteers her time to serve on the Local Emergency Management Planning Committee, and is an associate member of Priest Lake Search and Rescue.  She is a past board member of Angels Over Sandpoint, serving as secretary at one point. 

While her children attended public school, Mrs. Zeischegg volunteered in her children’s classrooms on a regular basis and served on the board of the Parent Teacher Organization.  In their high school years she was on the Principal’s Advisory Board. She obtained a Bachelor of Arts Degree and her children graduated from public universities. Mrs. Zeischegg feels it is important to the Trustee position to have business experience.  As a small business owner, along with her husband Dr. Peter Zeischegg, she managed the Zeischegg Chiropractic Neurology practice for 12 years.  She currently works with her husband in their international online wellness business,, a business that aids clients in achieving and maintaining health without drugs or surgery.

Mrs. Zeischegg believes the school district needs to serve the children, parents, community and taxpayers. She feels that it is important to determine where school district funds need to be spent and how to best spend those funds, as well as deciding where the school board can save taxpayer dollars. She spoke of the discord in the school district and through leadership and problem solving, work together to solve problems and budget issues. She spoke of regular maintenance of school buildings, vehicles being maintained, and the need for centralized purchasing for all of the schools to save money, rather than each school doing their own purchases.

Rather than the high property taxes provided by levies, she is a proponent of bonds for facilities, one school at a time in order to make them sustainable. This zone 3 candidate states that she is a huge supporter of the public school system and that we have great schools in our district, but there is always room for improvement.  LPOSD is really in the service business.  First, it directly benefits our students and their parents by providing the education necessary to go on to college, vocational training, or right into the work force upon graduation.  Second, it indirectly attracts new businesses and creates jobs that enhance our local economy.

Lonnie Williams

Lonnie Williams is a lifelong Idaho resident and was born in Lewiston, Idaho. Besides a stint in Spokane where he attended Gonzaga University and earned his Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, he calls Sandpoint his home for most of his life. Along with his father, he helps run Sandpoint Title Insurance, a local business. Mr. Williams stated that he has been involved in school extra-curricular activities, including sports as a soccer coach, academics and the arts. As a businessman he believes that our educational system is the keystone for the community and growing the economy with good schools will be a draw for new businesses.

Mr. Williams feels we need to support the school staff and extra-curricular activities. He stated that if kids can excel it might “keep kids on the right path.” He supports the school levies. Idaho provides 67% of its state budget for education but Mr. Williams feels that the state does not provide enough funding for the school system. He believes that the budget is important and would ask, what is the best student achievement with school funding?

Zone 5: Downtown Sandpoint; west including Dover. Click for map. The current seat is held by retiring trustee/board chair Steve Youngdahl. The two candidates for this trustee position are Anita Perry and Cary Kelly.

Anita Perry

Anita Perry spent most of her working life in public administration at the local and state level in California.  Twenty of those years were in management positions in the School of Education at Cal State San Bernardino and in two large police departments.  She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Cal State, and while doing so came to appreciate the education she had received in public and private schools that prepared her to enter effortlessly into college.

Immediately after arriving in Sandpoint Mrs. Perry began volunteering in the community and joined the Community Assistance League, where she remains a member today.  She also served for two years as president of the Bonner County Republican Women and currently serves on the board.  Her interest in grassroots politics led her to become precinct committeewoman with the Bonner County Republican Central Committee, where she also served as secretary for two years.   Because of her background in public administration, she also attended many city council, townhall, and has attended school board meetings for the past year and a half.

Mrs. Perry feels that while our community is supportive of its schools, there exists a divide in a number of areas and that school board trustees are in a frontline position to heal that divide.  They are the critical link between the school and the community and serve as the “education watchdog” to make sure that students get the best education for the tax dollars available. She believes there is a lack of communication with the public and that we need to rebuild schools when needed, one school at a time.

Mrs. Perry believes that her work experience at Cal State School of Education, where the mission was to train, credential, and prepare teachers and school administrators for their jobs, and as police records manager with large-staff departments, budgets, and problem resolution issues, is well suited for her to serve on the LPOSD school board with its variety of duties. Her priorities would be excellence in education, fiscal responsibility and commitment to the community. She states that she would be honored to serve as school district Trustee in Zone 5.

Cary Kelly

Cary Kelly and his wife moved to Bonner County 24 years ago. They have 2 children and 5 grandchildren and the grandkids have all attended public school in Sandpoint. He served 28 years in the military. Mr. Kelly has a Master’s degree in education and has previously taught. He said he had previously applied to teach in Sandpoint, but his credentials were ignored. He worked at the Bonner County Sheriff’s Office for 22 years. Mr. Kelly stated that when he served as a Bonner County Commissioner he gained experience in budgets, working with employees, and bureaucracy.

Mr. Kelly feels that the school infrastructure is falling apart and will need to be addressed by the school board. He said that he voted for the facilities levy but did not support it. He supports the school administrators. He supports the levies but believes that the State of Idaho has the responsibility for school funding, and it should not be the property owners. He would support bonds so that the property owners would not bear the responsibility. He mentioned that it takes 66% of the voters to pass a bond.

When asked about the SBAC tests, he stated it is necessary to know where the children stand but that the implementation needs oversight. If elected, Mr. Kelly plans to provide the leadership to improve the quality of education, to ensure transparency in all budgetary and policy decisions, to strive to see that every student has the opportunity to develop to his or her full potential and to be open and available to the public on all school matters in the district.