Staff Writer

The Stephenville ISD board of trustees welcomed one more candidate -Dr. Rusty Freed - to the upcoming election.

Three seats will be on the May 14 ballot, including a one-year unexpired term and two full three-year terms.

One incumbent - Doug McLemore, place 7, will run uncontested as he did not draw an opponent in a bid for his second term on the board.

Place 2

Yet another candidate has stepped up to file for a chance at the one-year term on the SISD board.

Dr. Rusty Freed, who heads up the Management, Marketing and Administrative Systems Department at Tarleton State University, filed his application Monday.

"My decision to run for the unexpired term is based on my desire to assist the district in continuing to provide a quality education during these uncertain economic times," Freed said. "This is something that I am presently involved with in my position at Tarleton as we attempt to maximize our budgets."

Freed's has been a common face within SISD over the last couple of years as a regular attendee of the monthly board meetings and special called meetings as well.

"I attend board meetings on a regular basis and attempt to stay current on the monthly agenda items," Freed said. "I have perused the district strategic plan and was fortunate to be able to serve on a sub-committee/task force during it's development. The strategic planning committee and the board worked diligently on the development of this document, and I look forward to being involved in the opportunities related to it's implementation over the next year."

Two SISD retirees, former Stephenville High School Principal Ken Williams and former SHS dance teacher and Stingerette advisor Sherrie Evans have also filed for a shot at the one-year unexpired term.

Place 2 was previously held by Toby Mills, who resigned from the board in January after more than a decade of service.

Evans said she hopes to bring her decades of teaching experience to the board in an effort to boost teacher morale, which she said is at an "all-time low."

"When you are hired to do a job, I feel like you should be trusted with that job," she said. "Let the teachers teach."

Another key issue for Evans is finance. She said while the current board has done a good job managing SISD money, she said it is important for the district to continue to operate without dipping into reserves.

When asked about his motivation, Williams said he has always had a desire to serve the community, and education is the perfect fit.

"I was in education for 24 years and it was great to me," he said. "I need to give back what education has given to me."

Williams said his main focus is on students across the district.

"I want to make sure kids are getting what they need to be as successful as possible," he said. "Stephenville ISD is a great district, and I want to again be a part of that as well as seeing it continues to be one of the best school districts in the state."

Place 6

Incumbent Rusty Jergins, place 6, recently filed for re-election and a shot at his second term on the school board.

Jergins is employed by Tarleton State University, where he was recently promoted to serve as the university's vice president of student life.

Jergins said since the district is facing significant challenges in the future, he believes SISD would be best served by having experience on board in seeing the strategic plan to fruition. He also said he is viewing the current financial forecast for public education in the coming biennium as an opportunity for SISD to emphasize its priorities.

Political newcomer Jason Westbrook recently announced he would face off against Jergins for his first fight inside the political arena.

Westbrook works for the Texas Institute for Applied Environmental Research (TIAER) at Tarleton as the senior director for programs, and said he is confident the experience gained at TIAER and through former business partnerships has given him valuable management, budgetary and personnel experience.

"I have had an interest in running for school board for some time," Westbrook said, adding that as a parent to four children within SISD, he has a good idea of how the district works.

Westbrook said he has three primary concerns - students, the budget and giving teachers and administrators the tools they need to shape the future.