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Blue Valley school board candidates split into 2 slates

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Candidates running for Blue Valley Board of Education this November are opting to make their campaigns a group effort.

Eight candidates eyeing four seats on the school board have broken off into two informal slates, each with four candidates apiece.

While nominally nonpartisan, the clear divisions in this year’s Blue Valley school board races continue a recent trend of more overt partisanship in these historically lower profile local races.

Blue Valley National Merit
The ‘A+ Team’ and “Blue Valley Excellence” candidate slates each have four members, one with mostly incumbent candidates and one entirely with newcomers. Above, the Blue Valley District Office where the board meets monthly. File photo.

One group calls themselves “The A+ Team”

  • The “A+ Team” is made up of three current board members and one newcomer with a long-running civic presence in the Blue Valley area.
  • The slate includes current board members Jan Kessinger, Jodie Dietz and Patrick Hurley — as well as Clay Norkey, who currently serves as Chairman of the Blue Valley Recreation Commission.
  • The “A+Team” slate frames themselves as nonpartisan, with a platform centered around creating a “kids first” environment.
  • Their specific policy planks are built around four alliterative focus areas: promoting and supporting Blue Valley’s ’ “Academics, Arts, Athletics, and Activities in a safe and secure environment.”

Another group calls themselves “Blue Valley Excellence”

  • Another informal group of four candidates is calling themselves Blue Valley Excellence and is made up of four electoral newcomers — Christine Vasquez, Mike Huebner, Rachel Faagutu and Trisha Hamilton.
  • Vasquez is a Leawood resident and previously served as Co-President of the Blue Valley Touchdown Booster Club, while Huebner works in accounting and investor reporting with QTS Data Centers in Overland Park.
  • Faagutu is a musician and local worship leader, and she and her husband have three children in the school district, and Hamilton works as a business administrator for a nonprofit organization and teaches Sunday school to middle schoolers at a local church.
  • Some of the priorities this slate emphasizes on their website include prioritizing a “back to basics” academic approach that steers away from “gender ideology and critical race theory,” placing an armed guard at all the district’s elementary schools and fully funding special education services through the state.
  • Two years ago, three other candidates campaigned on an informal slate that also emphasized their opposition to “critical race theory” and COVID-19 safety measures, and two of those candidates — Jim McMullen and Kaety Bowers — won.

A ninth candidate recently dropped out

  • A ninth Blue Valley board candidate, Amie Callahan, dropped out of the race earlier this summer — citing “unforeseen circumstances” and pledging to “continue to support those committed to quality education with measurable results for our children” in a statement to the Post.
  • The current board also recently appointed Sonya Evans to fill the seat vacated by Bowers, who resigned earlier this year.
  • Evans will serve the remainder of Bowers’ term until 2026 and is not on the ballot this year.

Go deeper: Here’s who has filed to run for Blue Valley school board so far

About the author

Lucie Krisman
Lucie Krisman

Hi! I’m Lucie Krisman, and I cover local business for the Johnson County Post.

I’m a native of Tulsa, Oklahoma, but have been living in Kansas since I moved here to attend KU, where I earned my degree in journalism. Prior to joining the Post, I did work for The Pitch, the Eudora Times, the North Dakota Newspaper Association and KTUL in Tulsa.

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