Politics, issues fuel Neal’s bid to stay on state school board

MARCIA NEAL: Re-election victory would preserve Republican majority on board

Colorado State Board of Education member Marcia Neal has reversed her decision not to seek a second term, putting her in the running against fellow Grand Junction Republican Barbara Ann Smith and Pueblo Democrat Henry Roman for the board’s 3rd Congressional District seat.

Neal filed campaign paperwork with the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office last week for her re-election bid this November. Neal, a former social studies teacher and District 51 School Board member, previously said one six-year term on the state board was enough. But she changed her mind after she said several people told her the 3rd District needed a candidate with her experience.

The push grew stronger after Roman, a former Pueblo 60 superintendent, entered the race in February. The board currently has a Republican majority with four Republicans and three Democrats but that majority could shift if Roman wins. Neal said she expects the other two seats up for election this fall, both in the Denver metropolitan area, to be retained by Democrats.

“If we lose a seat and lose the majority, it could be very damaging to school choice. That was a big part of my decision” to run again, Neal said.

Neal said school choice, emphasizing the difference between content standards and curriculum, and implementing a new state assessment system next spring are her primary concerns.

“I love what I’m doing. It’s a difficult time to step away. There are a lot of issues I’ve been addressing and trying to address,” she said.

Neal said she has nothing against Smith, a former special education teacher who entered the race with Neal’s blessing last May. Neal called Roman a “very strong candidate” who some of Neal’s supporters believed may be hard for a newcomer to beat. Smith did not respond to an email requesting comment Monday and a message on her cellphone voicemail said her inbox is full.

“It is what it is,” Neal said. “There were people who thought I had more experience.”

Smith’s campaign gathered $2,185 in campaign contributions and a $2,100 loan as of Jan. 15, according to the most recent campaign finance reports available on the secretary of state’s website. Neal and Roman have not yet reported contributions.


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