Four women are running for three open governing board seats in the Gilbert Unified School District, including two incumbents, a former education reporter and a business owner.
E.J. Anderson, Helen Hollands, Adelaida Severson and Lily Tram are vying for the open seat. Elaine Morrison has opted not to run again in the Nov. 4 election.
Anderson, 53, said she has a unique perspective to run for the board. She covered education in the East Valley, including Gilbert schools, for 10 years at The Arizona Republic newspaper.
She still writes a community column for the paper with her oldest daughter, Lindsey, a 2001 graduate of Gilbert High School.
Anderson is now a media relations manager at Rio Salado College.
"Because I've had five kids in Gilbert schools and because I covered education, I realize the profound impact education has on our children and our future and our community and our world," Anderson said.
Her five children all graduated from either Highland or Gilbert high school. Her youngest daughter, Joslyn, graduated from Gilbert in May.
She has a master's degree in educational leadership from Northern Arizona University.
Helen Hollands, 48, is running for her third term on the board. She is also president of the Gilbert Fine Arts Association and a board member of Catholic Healthcare West East Valley.
Hollands said she is excited to see change and growth in the district with a new superintendent, David Allison, on board. "I would like to be a part of it," Hollands said.
She has two children in the district. Sarah is a junior at Mesquite High School, and Daniel is a sixth-grader at Islands Elementary. Her son Jeffrey just graduated from Mesquite.
Adelaida Severson, 43, said she was encouraged to run because of her background. She has a doctorate in public administration from Arizona State University and is a former school board president for St. Anne's Little Flower Montessori School in Gilbert.
Severson owns Bushtex Inc., a satellite broadcast communications company. She has three sons at Ashland Ranch Elementary. Lars is a fourth-grader, and twins Brock and Swen are first-graders.
Anderson and Severson were among the 13 applicants who tried to fill a board vacancy earlier this year. Tram, 39, was ultimately appointed to that seat in April. Tram's term expires this year, and she is looking to retain the seat.
Tram is a senior financial services manager at ASU. She said she she's looking forward to learning more.
"I feel that by putting my time and effort into this, it's benefiting students, and I'm interested in fulfilling my time this way," Tram said.
Her children include daughter Lynn, a sophomore at Mesquite; Don, an eighth-grader at South Valley Junior High; and Tom, a second-grader at Ashland Ranch Elementary.
Candidate statements and a list of candidates running for the Valley's school boards can be found at www.maricopa.gov/schools.