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Denver union announces endorsements

The Denver Classroom Teachers Association on Tuesday announced its endorsements in two of three races for the Denver school board, but declined to back any candidate for the citywide at-large seat.

In southeast Denver or District 1, the DCTA is backing Emily Sirota over Anne Rowe. And in northwest Denver or District 5, the union is supporting Arturo Jimenez, the lone incumbent on the Nov. 1 ballot, over Jennifer Draper Carson.

The five candidates for the at-large seat are John Daniel, Frank Deserino, Happy Haynes, Roger Kilgore and Jacqui Shumway. Haynes, a former Denver City Council president and DPS administrator, was endorsed Monday by Mayor Michael Hancock.

“In the at-large race, DCTA would likely develop a strong, collaborative relationship with most of the five candidates,” said DCTA President Henry Roman. “During our interviews, we came away with a positive feeling that more than one of them share our core values and beliefs. That’s why we decided to give our members information about all of the candidates we interviewed without giving any of them our endorsement.

“By contrast, in the District 1 and 5 races, we saw a much sharper contrast between candidates. In terms of our three main priorities — student success, educator excellence, and shared accountability — Emily Sirota and Arturo Jimenez clearly demonstrate a deeper understanding of the issues that affect those priorities, and a greater willingness to partner with teachers to achieve these goals.”

Every union-backed candidate won in the 2005 election, but all three lost in 2007. In 2009, the union was two-for-three, supporting winners Andrea Merida in southwest Denver and Nate Easley in northeast Denver but endorsing Christopher Scott in the at-large race won by Mary Seawell.

The DCTA endorsement carries with it the promise of a significant financial boost. Five labor unions – the DCTA, its statewide affiliate the Colorado Education Association, the American Federation of Teachers, the AFL-CIO, and the United Food and Commercial Workers – pitched in a total of $103,450 to support its three candidates in 2009.

Candidates file their first financial disclosure reports on Oct. 11.

Tuesday’s endorsements differ from those of two school reform groups, which announced their picks earlier in the campaign season. The Denver chapter of Stand for Children endorsed Rowe in southeast Denver and Draper Carson in the northwest, as well as Haynes for the citywide seat. The same trio was endorsed by Democrats for Education Reform-Colorado.

The DCTA endorsements are one more indication that the DPS board races are likely to start generating more attention, with mail-in ballots going out to voters in little more than three weeks.

With roughly a dozen candidate forums scheduled in coming weeks, the candidates will have ample opportunity to set themselves apart. Wednesday, the at-large candidates will participate in a 7 p.m. forum hosted by the Bear Valley Neighborhood Improvement Association and the Southwest Denver Coalition for Education at Traylor Academy, 2900 S. Ivan Way.

Hancock is expected to make endorsements in the southeast and northwest district races, although it is not certain when those will come.

Hancock’s predecessor, Gov. John Hickenlooper, endorsed in just two races in the 2009 election, backing Seawell in the at-large race and Ismael Garcia in the southwest Denver race, which was won by Merida.

Denver school board candidates and links to their websites

  • At-large/citywide:John Daniel, 54, is a computer systems administrator and resident of the Baker neighborhood. Campaign website.
  • Frank Deserino, 49, is a social studies teacher at South High School. Campaign website.
  • Happy Haynes, 58, is director of civic and community engagement for CRL Associates, Inc. and a resident of the Park Hill neighborhood. Campaign website.
  • Roger Kilgore, 54, is a water resources engineer and consultant, and a resident of Park Hill. Campaign website.
  • Jacqui Shumway, 52, is a health educator and resident of Park Hill. Campaign website.
  • District 1, Southeast Denver:Anne Rowe, 51, a small business owner who lives in the Cherry Hills Heights neighborhood. Campaign website.
  • Emily Sirota, 32, is a social worker who lives in Virginia Village. Campaign website.
  • District 5, Northwest Denver:Jennifer Draper Carson, 42, is an education activist and full-time mom, living in the West Highlands neighborhood. Campaign website.
  • Arturo Jimenez, 39, is an immigration attorney who lives in the Highlands neighborhood. He was first elected to the northwest Denver seat in 2007. Campaign website.

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