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Denton County school board elections in May see crowded races

The primary election polls may have only closed a couple of days ago, but residents in several school districts are gearing up to campaign for open school board seats.

School boards in Denton County are made up of seven volunteers who serve staggered three-year terms and act as the governing body of a public school district. They are tasked with setting the district's tax rate and yearly budget, adopting district-wide rules and regulations, approving land purchases and evaluating the superintendent.

To be eligible for a place on the board, applicants must be a U.S. citizen at least 18 years old and registered to vote. They must be a resident of the state for at least a year and a resident of the district for at least six months. They also can't have any felony convictions on their record.

Denton ISD

Eight people will enter a crowded race to fill two seats on the board.

Incumbent and retired teacher Barbara Burns is running again for her Place 1 seat that she's held since 2012. Her challengers are airline pilot Brad Fritcher, retired U.S. Department of Agriculture employee Alfredo Sanchez and Barry Barnes, a sales manager.

In Place 2, retired teacher and current board secretary Jeanetta Smith will campaign to keep the seat she's held since 2006. Her challengers are software architect David Shuck, teacher Angela Cid and business owner Jonathan Balmos.

Argyle ISD

Board members Jeff Day and Keith White are stepping down from their seats, leading to open races for Places 4 and 5 on the board.

In Place 4, currently held by Day, business owner Ritchie Deffenbaugh will go against Brett Flaten, a project manager. White's Place 5 successor will either be state investigator Dave Howell or retiree Leona McDade.

Krum ISD

Four people, including two incumbents, applied for the two spots on the board.

Candidates in the four-way race, where the top two vote-getters will be elected to the board, include incumbents Eric Borchardt and Brad Andrus, technology architect Robert Dollins and Joe Galicia, a traffic signal supervisor.

Pilot Point ISD

With three spots up for grabs on the board, Pilot Point will see active contests for two of them.

Incumbent and North Central Texas College professor Melanie Billmeier will work to keep her Place 5 seat from challenger Jacob Stuckly, a field service representative. Current Place 7 board member Dan Flagg will step down as civil engineer Jason Pool and Ashley Dennis, a sales director, vie for his seat.

Kevin Ware, an engineer, will take over the Place 6 seat from Dana Braack, who decided not to run for re-election.

Ponder ISD

One incumbent drew no opponent for his board seat, but two are campaigning for the remaining spot.

Current board Vice President Todd Nichelson will serve another term in his Place 5 seat as the lone applicant for the spot. Incumbent Dale Brown will have to fight off challenger and geoscience analyst Timothy Tipton in order to keep his Place 4 seat.

Sanger ISD

The district will see only one contested race for two board seats this year.

Ann Marie Afflerbach, a senior lecturer at the University of North Texas, will hang on to her Place 2 seat, while insurance agent Russel CeBallos will vacate his Place 3 seat. Human resources professional Sarah Peers York will run against Sanger High School senior Jackson Sweet for that spot.

Other districts

Neither Aubrey ISD or Lake Dallas ISD will have contested races this year as only one person filed for each open spot.

In Aubrey, senior director Joey Saxon and business owner Annette Crooks will keep their Place 1 and Place 2 seats, respectively. Realtor Carlos Urquidez will take over the Place 3 seat from board President Ron Bullock, who will step down at the end of his term.

Two Lake Dallas ISD incumbents filed again to keep their seats. Retired federal auditor and current board secretary Glen Gowans will stay in his Place 1 seat, while chemist Steve Payne will remain in his Place 2 seat.

CAITLYN JONES can be reached at 940-566-6862.