Challenger hopes to unseat 4-term school board member

Washington County School Board office, St. George, Utah, undated | St George News

ST. GEORGE — Voters in Washington County School District 2 can rest assured that neither candidate for local school board has any plan to vote for tax increases.

Craig Seegmiller, a math professor at Dixie State University, seeks re-election to the local school board, St. George, Utah, undated | Image courtesy of Craig Seegmiller, St. George News
Craig Seegmiller, a math professor at Dixie State University, seeks re-election to the local school board, St. George, Utah, undated | Image courtesy of Craig Seegmiller, St. George News

The school board seat that covers the west half of St. George in northern Bloomington and the Tonaquint areas is up for election Nov. 8. Candidates include four-term incumbent Craig Seegmiller and challenger Rick Nelson.

Seegmiller, a math professor at Dixie State University, previously served as president and vice president on the board. Balancing the proper compensation of teachers while not putting undue burden on the taxpayers is what he said encompasses his basic platform.

Nelson, who is employed by the City of St. George as a bus driver for SunTran, previously drove school buses for the Washington County School District. Common sense is what he says drives his campaign. If the school board is really in it for the students, money should go to teachers rather than administrators, he said.

Raising Taxes

“A tax increase to me is a last resort,” Seegmiller said.

Rick Nelson, a bus driver for Sun Tran, seeks election to the local school board, St. George, Utah, Oct. 8, 2016 | Photo by Joseph Witham, St. George News
Rick Nelson, a bus driver for Sun Tran, seeks election to the local school board, St. George, Utah, Oct. 8, 2016 | Photo by Joseph Witham, St. George News

“In Utah, we spend less money per student than any other place in the country. That gets talked about a lot. The part that they don’t usually add is we pay more per taxpayer (per student) than any place in the country,” he continued.

“I have never voted for a tax increase in all the years I’ve been on the board,” Seegmiller said.

Instead of constant property tax increases that add to an existing tax burden each year, Seegmiller said he sees an alternative in bond deals. The bond rating in Utah is among the best in the country, meaning money can be borrowed inexpensively, he said.

Nelson’s stance on raising taxes differs little from Seegmiller. He said taxes do not need to be raised and the board should instead use what resources are already available to the district.

“I feel that the taxpayers’ dollars are sacred and need to be spent wisely,” Nelson said.

Common Core

Both candidates see the Common Core State Standards Initiative as problematic.

Seegmiller said he has serious concerns about the standards and has seen teachers quit over the state’s adoption of the Common Core.

“We’re teaching more low level math classes at Dixie State than ever before,” Seegmiller said.

Four years into the program’s adoption, Seegmiller said the increased need for remedial classes at the college level can be linked directly to the Common Core.

“I’m against the government’s intrusion into the education system and dictating what we have to do,” Nelson said. “It is the states’ right to decide the curriculum they teach.”

He believes the solution is to instead adopt standards developed by Utah, Nelson said.

Fiscal Responsibility

“Fiscal responsibility is the cornerstone of everything we do — should be,” Seegmiller said, adding he wants to see the school board creatively use funds it already has in order to save money.

“Years ago we started building buildings in a way that hadn’t been done around here before,” Seegmiller said, “that’s called tilt-up concrete. It’s a lot less expensive. It’s incredibly durable. We’ve saved millions of dollars on construction. But our buildings are beautiful and our buildings just keep winning awards.”

Nelson, not unlike Seegmiller, said fiscal responsibility is the No. 1 role of the board.

Nelson said he believes in working wisely with what the district already has available to it rather than worrying about catching up with the spending habits of other districts in the state.

Experience

While both candidates share much in their platform, they disagree on what previous experience can bring to the board.

“I think that my experience is a positive on the board,” Seegmiller said. “There are a lot of things I understand that you maybe can’t understand when you’re there at the beginning. I don’t feel like I’m done yet.”

Nelson said he appreciates what Seegmiller has done in his years on the board, but he said it’s time for a change.

“We don’t need career politicians,” Nelson said. “Please consider a new candidate that loves this great Washington County and wants to leave a better place for his grandkids.”

Email: jwitham@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

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3 Comments

  • old school October 8, 2016 at 8:24 pm

    Craig Seemiller is a self serving spend thrift who has been buying votes of the influential with your tax dollars his whole career. Can’t say if Nelson is any better, but we know what we got, and for the interest of the community need to get someone out of office who historically raised taxes whenever a new toy comes along. I say give Nelson a chance

    • Jeannette October 10, 2016 at 1:07 pm

      You obviously have not checked out your facts. Craig Seegmiller was the only school board member to vote against the last tax increase, and the one before that and the one before that. In fact he has NEVER voted for a tax increase. He cares very much about teachers but he has worked very hard to avoid burdening the taxpayers. He also has worked very hard to understand all issues and concerns, and spends time listening to and communicating with teachers, parents and community members throughout the district.

  • mmsandie October 9, 2016 at 8:56 am

    I think people should be challenged as politicians, the teachers should be paid more.. We have a big problem with getting teachers.. If you knew some of the teachers and how unqualified they are, it’s scarey.. There is no science teacher in DTesert Hills high.. Sometimes a PE teacher comes in. Substitutes are even worse.. In some areas.. Parents move around in town just to keep their kids in better schools, new buildings do,not make for better teachers either.. I taught school years ago and can see many problems in this district..

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