The conservative grip loosened Monday on the Coeur d’Alene School Board after a threesome of new board members were sworn in to their elected positions and quickly took control.
Moments after the new trustees – Christa Hazel, Dave Eubanks and Tom Hearn – took their oaths, Eubanks nominated Hearn to serve as the board’s chairman and Hazel to serve as vice chair. Both were selected by the board’s new majority bloc, whose members also are Republican but describe themselves as moderates.
The sudden change in leadership was nearly as abrupt as a year ago, when now-former board Chairman Tom Hamilton and now-former Vice Chair Terri Seymour took their positions. Hamilton and Seymour, halfway through their terms, were serving with three other conservatives appointed in the past 12 months to fill vacancies.
The recent election, a nonpartisan race turned political battlefield, pitted Reagan Republicans – the more conservative wing of the Kootenai County GOP – against candidates from a competing wing known as Balance North Idaho, whose members are considered more moderate. Voters chose the newcomers following a year of tumultuous school board politics.
On Monday, when Hazel was nominated as vice chair, Seymour was the lone dissent. “I think I would have nominated Mr. Hamilton as vice chair because you haven’t been a trustee for five minutes and you don’t have the experience of running a meeting,” Seymour said. She was outnumbered 2-to-1.
Hamilton did not attend the meeting, citing a crisis at work.
Hearn thanked Hamilton and Seymour for their service, and added: “I hope this board can get along and move forward as a body to serve children.”
In addition to Hearn’s and Hazel’s positions on the board, the two will also replace Hamilton and defeated candidate Brent Regan on the labor negotiating team. A teachers contract is currently being bargained, and negotiations weren’t going well, said Tim Sandford, lead negotiator and a union vice president.