Three candidates are seeking two open seats on the Washington School Board in the April 2 election.
They include incumbent Dan Contarini, John Lippert and Trish Mitchell. All three live in Washington.
The Missourian recently sat down with each of the candidates to learn their reasons for running and whether they support the school district’s two-part bond issue, also on next Tuesday’s ballot.
Profiles on each of the candidates is as follows:
Dan Contarini, 59, is seeking a second consecutive term on the school board. He also served as a board member from 1997-2000.
“I think we have a great board and a great administration, and I want to continue the work we’ve started,” Contarini told The Missourian.
“These have been challenging times because of the economy, and state and federal funding continue to diminish, but I feel with my background and experience in law enforcement and working with the schools I’ve been able to help,” he said.
Contarini was the first school resource officer for the district, and prior to that, served as D.A.R.E. officer. He also worked for the district, handling the in-school suspension, and has been a substitute teacher.
He recently was named assistant chief of the De Soto Police Department, but will remain living in Washington.
Contarini said he’s “very satisfied” with how the district is being operated and feels the board is working well together.
“I don’t think anyone has a personal agenda,” he said. “We all want what’s best for students, the district and the community.”
Contarini said he fully supports Prop R, but understands some people’s concerns with raising taxes.
“No one wants more taxes, but unfortunately, for these bigger projects, it’s the only way we can do it,” he said. “But we do have two questions, one with a tax increase and one without, so people do have a choice.”
Contarini said the district is falling behind in technology and even though there’s only been limited growth, many of the buildings are overcrowded and several are utilizing trailers for classrooms.
“From a safety standpoint, trailers are horrendous,” he said.
The bond issue is about providing what’s best for kids, said Contarini, who hopes the community understands the needs and will step up to support the district.
“We have trimmed the budget and been good stewards of taxpayers’ money,” he said.
If re-elected, Contarini promises to continue to move the district forward, especially in technology, and with keeping the schools safe.
Contarini’s wife, Kim, is a teacher at Washington High School. He has three children, two of whom graduated from WHS.
John Lippert, 48, said he initially thought about running for school board after reading an editorial in The Missourian encouraging people to run so voters have a choice.
A financial planner, Lippert said he then started looking into the school system’s finances and found the district has earned national recognition for its budget, has a strong credit rating and has refinanced its debt to save taxpayers money.
Ultimately, Lippert said he decided to seek the office because “our children are our future and we are obligated to prepare them for it.
“Since I was little, I’ve always had a conviction to serve the community where I live,” he added. “My dad served as mayor of Union and I was raised to serve others.”
Lippert said is familiar with the district because his daughter, Jordan, graduated from Washington High School in 2012, and his son, Isaac, 16, is currently a sophomore at WHS.
If elected, he pledges to use his financial background to ensure that tax dollars are being allocated in the most fiscal manner, while still promoting the best possible education for students.
Lippert said he is concerned that district facilities are lacking and below what other districts offer. He does not like the use of trailers for classrooms, and feels more needs to be done to improve technology.
For those reasons, he supports Prop R and especially favors the district’s plan to upgrade to a wireless technology infrastructure,
“I applaud school officials for scaling back the plan and having two questions on the ballot, one with a tax increase and one without,” he said. “We are such a progressive community, but the schools are not keeping pace.”
He graduated cum laude from Columbia College with a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration with an emphasis in finance. He also has an associate degree in electronic systems engineering from the CCAF.
After serving in the military, Lippert opened a dental laboratory in Union. He began his financial services career in 1999 with MetLife Insurance Company. Shortly after that, he joined Money Concepts. Currently, he is president of his own financial planning firm in Washington.
Lippert has officiated high school football, served as a Boy Scout leader and coached Babe Ruth baseball and softball and Washington Little League football. He is a lifetime member of the Washington High School Athletic Association.
He also served in the U.S. Air Force and Missouri Air National Guard.
Trish Mitchell, 49, is seeking her first public office.
Mitchell said it was a friend who first encouraged her to run for school board, saying her values and background in education, child care and health/fitness would be assets.
“I think I’m good at looking at the big picture,” she said. “I’ve also been very active in the schools with my own kids, two of whom are Washington High School graduates and one who is currently a freshman.”
Before throwing her hat in the ring, Mitchell said she researched what her role as a board member would be, the responsibilities and all it involved, and then prayed on it.
“I think it would be a good fit for me because of everything I’ve done in my life,” she said.
Mitchell ran a home daycare for 14 years and currently is a fitness instructor, offering classes through the city parks department. She attended the University of Missouri-Columbia, studying early childhood education.
Mitchell said she supports the district’s proposed bond issue. She said safety and providing an adequate learning environment are very important to her and feels Prop R goes a long way in addressing those needs.
“I think Prop R has been carefully thought out,” she said.
Mitchell also said she’s pleased with how district is being operated, but added there’s always room for improvement.
“If we’re not striving to be the best, then you wind up falling behind so we must always strive to improve,” she said. “Our kids not only need, but deserve an excellent education and that’s what I would work to do.”
Mitchell and her husband Mark have three children and two grandchildren.