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North Idaho College Board of Trustees races

The Spokesman-Review

North Idaho College Board of Trustees

Four people are running for two positions on the North Idaho College board of trustees. One race pits six-year incumbent and board Chairwoman Christie Wood against Robert Ketchum, who worked for the college for 20 years as work force development director until the position was eliminated last year.

Wood is running on her accomplishments, saying the board has managed to be responsible with taxpayers’ money despite increased demand on the college, including a 37 percent increase in enrollment. She said she wants to continue to share resources with other Idaho colleges to improve course and degree offerings in North Idaho.

Ketchum is running in tandem with Ron Nilson, CEO of a Post Falls company that makes mining equipment. Both are running on a platform of transparency and accountability, saying many people, including many businesses, feel disconnected from the community college. They say the community college should focus more on involving the public and on connecting students with employment opportunities.

Longtime Coeur d’Alene attorney Ken Howard is challenging Nilson for the open seat being vacated by board member Rolly Williams. With regard to NIC’s planned education corridor, Howard said “significant opportunities” will surface over the next 10 to 15 years that will help the area grow and prosper and he’d like to be part of making that happen.

Both races are for four-year, unpaid terms on the nonpartisan board.

Position A

• Ken Howard , 67

Bio: Attorney; Wayne State University, juris doctorate, 1971; Kettering Institute, mechanical engineering degree, 1967; past president, Idaho State Bar and Idaho Trial Lawyers Association; member of Idaho Supreme Court Fairness and Equality in the Courts Committee; fellow of American College of Trial Lawyers and past Idaho State Committee chairman; founding member of the Coeur d’Alene Soccer Club. Married, four children, 11 grandchildren.

Goals for term: No agenda. Be open-minded, listen to all points of view and seek out the best possible solution. Make sure opportunities are the best possible given financial limitations. Be a good leader.

Notable: Howard is best-known as the trial lawyer who worked in tandem with Morris Dees of the Southern Poverty Law Center on the landmark 2000 case that bankrupted the Aryan Nations.

• Ron Nilson , 58

Bio: CEO of Ground Force Manufacturing, which makes equipment for open pit mining; attended some community college but no degree; member of governing board of Kootenai Technical Education Center, chairman of North Idaho Manufacturing Consortium, board member of Post Falls Chamber of Commerce, sits on numerous other boards including the Boys & Girls Club of Kootenai County, Concerned Businesses of North Idaho and Kootenai Perspectives. Married; six children, including a daughter adopted in her teens; nine grandchildren.

Goals for term: Be open and transparent to the taxpayers paying for the college about the direction the college is taking. Be fiscally responsible. Be accountable for all decisions. Vote the will of the people.

Notable: Nilson was a key player in pushing for the passage of the recent KTEC levy, in which taxpayers in three school districts approved higher taxes to build a professional-technical high school on the Rathdrum Prairie.

Position B

• Robert Ketchum , 59

Bio: Chief executive of The Ketchum Group which offers customized training and work force development programs; Washington State University, 1985, doctorate in philosophy, major in vocational-technical education; Eastern Washington University, master’s degree in education, 1976; 10 years as Idaho’s representative to the American Association of Community Colleges Workforce Training State Liaison Network; served on boards of National Council for Workforce Education and Jobs Plus in Coeur d’Alene. Married; one grown son, one grown stepson.

Goals for term: Increase transparency of NIC board so taxpayers better understand how it operates; improve the college’s relationship with the community; improve the connection between students’ experiences and their ability to get jobs.

Notable: Ketchum has worked in education for 35 years and was executive director of Workforce Training at NIC for 20 years.

• Christie Wood , 49

Bio: Sergeant and public information officer with the Coeur d’Alene Police Department; Lewis-Clark State College, 2004; bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and communications; six years on NIC board of trustees; eight years on Coeur d’Alene School Board; Pacific Northwest regional representative for Association of Community College Trustees, member of Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations; writes children’s books. Married; one adult son.

Goals for term: Securing funding for a multipurpose building to be shared with other Idaho colleges as part of the education corridor; securing funding for a building for NIC’s professional-technical programs on the Rathdrum Prairie. Continuing to accommodate all students despite a tight budget and limited classroom space.

Notable: Wood has worked in law enforcement for 22 years.

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