Two vie for Blackfoot School District post

BLACKFOOT — Elections for the Blackfoot School District Board of Trustees will be May 17. Voters will decide two of the five seats on the board. Electors will vote in their regular precinct. Polls will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
In Zone 2, incumbent J.D. Tolman is running against Jenny Hong. Zone 2 encompasses a large portion of east Blackfoot including Blackfoot High School, Mountain View Middle School and Stoddard Elementary.
Tolman has served on the board of trustees for 10 years and has been chairman of the board for the past three years. He was recently appointed to serve as the vice-chair of Region 6 of the Idaho School Boards Association.
Tolman said the most important thing for school districts is to implement the changes made by the education reform laws and to continue to effectively manage budget cuts.
"I really think the school board needs experienced people to get us through the next couple of years," Tolman said. He said he has closely followed the changes made by the legislature this year and has a good understanding of what changes need to be made.
He said schools in the district have shown improvement and said he doesn't want to make additional changes in an already tumultuous time.
"I think we've got good things going on now," he said. "We've seen tremendous improvements in our schools."
Tolman has lived in Blackfoot for 31 years and has worked at the Idaho National Laboratory for 26 years. He has four children, all of whom have graduated from Blackfoot High School. He said he has always been active in helping the Boy Scouts of America and local youth sports teams.
Jenny Hong, who has attended board meetings for the past two years, said the school board is disconnected from the schools and needs a member who has an investment in the schools, particularly someone with a student in high school.
"The more I went the more I realized there was a disconnect," she said. "I would really like us to come together as a team."
Hong attends several events at the schools including games and concerts and said the school board needs someone with a better feel for the schools.
Her goal is to unite teachers, parents, students, the board and community to work toward creating a better environment for students, which in turn will allow students to succeed. She said that while there are great teachers in Blackfoot, they are frustrated and feel as if they don't have a voice.
"I feel like it's the board's responsibility to come together as a team and think outside the box," Hong said.
Hong and her family have lived in Blackfoot for 19 years. She has four children—one is serving an LDS Church mission, two are currently in high school and the youngest is in first grade. She is currently a stay-at-home mom but previously worked in sales and consulting for a curriculum company.