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Our Views: Kevin Murray, Bill Sodemann, Diane Eyers earn nods for Janesville School Board

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March 30, 2014

Two incumbents are among five candidates seeking three seats on the Janesville School Board in Tuesday’s elections.

Kevin Murray and Bill Sodemann deserve election to their fourth three-year terms. Newcomer Diane Eyers merits your support, as well.

Murray and Sodemann care about the district. Their long commitments to the board and willingness to invest three more years demonstrate that. Board service is nonpartisan, but these two are political opposites and in many ways balance the board. Murray is a retired firefighter who was active in his union and supported generous school district contracts approved before Gov. Walker’s Act 10 all but erased public-employee bargaining. Sodemann opposed those pacts. Today, while Superintendent Karen Schulte’s international outreach is not a partisan issue, Murray questions it at nearly every opportunity, while Sodemann sees its merits.

Murray weighs issues to make good judgments, even if at times he seems to battle himself over which way to vote. He’s conscious of budget concerns and earns the respect of teachers. Trust him when he says he’s upfront and honest and only wishes to continue his family’s long tradition of community service.

Sodemann is a fiscal conservative. As owner of PhonesPlus, he brings a businessman’s savvy to the board. That perspective is a key reason why he’s seeking another term—to see through a process using Studer Group principles to enact employee accountability measures and merit bonuses. He’s unafraid to challenge the status quo, yet remains respectful during meetings and doesn’t make differences personal. His creative suggestions spark discussions that can pay dividends.

Eyers deserves credit for making a second run at the board. That demonstrates her passion for education and board service. Her interest stirred a few years ago when her son attended Kennedy Elementary and the district had the school on a list for possible closing to cut costs. She moved her son this year to St. Paul’s Lutheran, giving her insight into the pros and cons of public vs. private education. Also, as a single working mother, she grasps the challenges that the district’s many single-parent households face. Her job in accounting could help the board at budget time. She understands the issues well. Believe her when she says she has a huge heart and love for kids.

The other candidates are Fred Jackson and Dale Thompson. Jackson is personable, but his answers to questions suggest he didn’t study the issues as much as you would expect of someone making a second board bid. Thompson served the board two terms in the 1990s but didn’t seek a third go-round. The retired director of the Rock County Developmental Disabilities Board is an intelligent man who also could serve the district well, but Eyers’ enthusiasm and fresh perspective earn her the nod.



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