The Idaho Falls School District board of trustees’ election on Nov. 2 will feature two candidates hoping to be elected for the first time by voters.

Kenneth Williams is challenging incumbent Paul Haacke for the board’s Zone 2 seat. Haacke was appointed by board members in 2019 to fill a vacancy and has not yet been up for election.

Zone 2 covers the Westside, Fox Hollow and Ethel Boyes school areas, according to the district’s website.

Williams, a retired Cold War-era Navy veteran, said he decided to run for the school board because of his experience working with juveniles while he served as a military police officer during his service. He said he helped develop juvenile standard operating procedures for the Navy. He also worked in the juvenile division as a deputy sheriff in San Diego County and taught special education in the Cajon Valley Union School District in California before moving to Idaho Falls to be closer with his family.

“Most of the kids that I dealt with as a sheriff was a result of student dropouts and lack of education success,” Williams said. “I thought maybe education is the key to getting students to stay on the right track to success in life.”

Should he be elected, some of Williams’ biggest goals for the district are to ensure equal access to education for students, advancing technology in classrooms and creating a more cooperative relationship with all stakeholders of the district.

While he was a teacher at Cajon Valley, he said he was one of the first teachers in the district who promoted the idea of inclusion at the district by integrating special education students into general education classrooms.

“My biggest strength as a candidate is my passion for student success,” Williams said. “Additionally, is my ability to work well with parents and other stakeholders.”

Another need for the district is to develop a more cooperative working relationship with district stakeholders, Williams said. That aligns with what Williams said he feels is one of his biggest strengths as a candidate — the ability to work well with parents and other stakeholders.

Haacke said he decided to seek election because he wanted to see through some of the goals he had in mind when he was first appointed to the board. These goals include improving district facilities.

“All of my plans for why I originally joined the board were sidelined because of more pressing issues — the most blaring one being the COVID-19 response that has dominated school districts,” Haacke said.

The pandemic also has revealed the need to address students’ mental and educational welfare, Haacke said. Another one of his goals is to free up the responsibilities school counselors attend to so they can focus on counseling rather than spending most of their time adjusting students’ class schedules, he said.

“Our counselors have too much on their plate that takes them away from actually counseling those who need it,” Haacke said.

Haacke said his biggest strength is his business and marketing background. Haacke earned a bachelor’s degree from Brigham Young University and a Master’s of Business Administration from Washington University in St. Louis. Currently, he is the president of Cross Border Consulting, an international recruitment firm specialized in the legal and finance industries.

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