Local Tea Party/Libertarians Want to Elect Special Interest Candidates to School Board
Mason and Coats would join Svenson to form voting bloc
By Thomas Wills
In two of the three races for Delta County School Board, more traditional, mainstream candidates Tammy Smith and Ron Germann are being challenged by outspoken Tea Party/libertarian leaning candidates Mike Mason and Arthur “Gary” Coats.
Coats, who is challenging Germann for Delta area District 1 board seat, is listed as the county contact for the Tea Party/constitutionalist “We the People” organization on their website. The state coordinator of the national organization is David Justice of Gunnison. Coats, 63, is a graduate of Paonia High School and is “self-educated in the principles of Constitutional law,” according to an on-line self-profile on the “We the People” site. Coats has worked at a wide variety of jobs from cowboy to oil field employment.
Mason, of Cedar Mesa, challenging Tammy Smith in District 4, has a lengthy history of expressing his conservative/libertarian opinions on many topics in numerous letters to editor. He previous unsuccessfully ran twice for the office of County Commissioner and once for School District board in 2011, losing to present board president Pete Blair 4,585 to 2,702. In the 2011 election Mason was endorsed by the Western Slope Constitutional Patriots, the local Tea Party group as was successful Delta area candidate and former homeschooler, Kathy Svenson. An announcement headline posted on the Western Colorado Constitutional Patriots website on November 2, 2011 said: “Our Girl Kathy Svenson Wins in School Board Election.”
Mason is a retired engineer who worked in the aeronautics industry.
Both Coats and Mason oppose Common Core, a national voluntary initiative, adopted by the State, which tries to establish a list of basic skills every student would learn by each specific grade level. The purpose is to smooth a student’s transition as they move from school to school and state to state during their learning years. The specifics of how to achieve the criteria are left to local school districts. Coats and Mason say that Common Core constitutes interference in local education. They also oppose Amendment 66 which funds a bill (213) passed by the legislature this year, that attempts to replace recent losses in student funding by raising the State’s income tax. More information on Amendment 66 may be found at http://coloradocommits.com/66-explained/
The two candidates also advocate vouchers and charter schools, which opponents say sometimes translates into public funds flowing to private or quasi-private schools.
Germann and Coats are running for the open seat previously held by Cheryl Hines, who is term limited.
Tammy Smith, appearing at the October 10 Hotchkiss Town Council meeting, would not neither endorse or oppose Amendment 66 but said that it would bring additional funds to local schools. She has been a school district volunteer for over two decades.
Incumbent Jan Tuin is running for the District 5, Paonia area seat, unopposed.
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