Who are the candidates for the Lewistown School Board?

Four have filed for two positions
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Compiled by Katherine Sears
Friday, April 22, 2022
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(From left) Whitney (Miller) Brady, Kevin Hodge, Phillip Koterba and RJ Patterson.

Four candidates are running for two three-year trustee positions on the Lewistown School Board. Ballots have been mailed out to registered voters within the school district and are due back to the Fergus County Clerk and Recorder’s Office by May 3.    

The Lewistown Education Association held a school board candidate forum on April 25 at the Fergus High School Auditorium. Access the recording of the forum here: https://youtu.be/l-hE4Mmzqy4.

Phillip Koterba (Incumbent)

1. Why are you running for the school board?

I’m running because my term ended and I want to continue working with the curriculum and utilize the time on the board for the three-year building program we are working on. 

2. What do you see as the major issues facing the Lewistown School District?

Essentially, continuing to work on safety for students and maintenance, which also incorporates our building program. It’s important to take the time involved with working on and maintaining some sort of order in the growth of the school district. Most schools in the state are starving to death or older. We have to manage and balance the class sizes with staffing and the facilities. 

3. What is your general background?

I’m retired. I spent 28 years in education and changed into business ownership with my son when we bought a surveying business. I’ve been retired about eight years and have served 3 three-year terms on the Lewistown School Board. 

Whitney (Miller) Brady

1. Why are you running for the school board?

I feel it is each and every citizen’s responsibility to contribute to his or her community. That means different things for different people. For me, contributing to public education is one of the best ways to positively impact our society. Access to free public education is one of the greatest privileges of living in the U.S. and education (in any format) is a segue for personal, and therefore, community success. Having gone through the Lewistown school system, I want to give back to the school district and community that gave me so much. Lastly, I have three young children that are in or will be in the school system so I have a vested interest in maintaining our great public schools.

2. What do you see as the major issues facing the Lewistown School District?

Like many entities, the most immediate issue facing the school district has been staff shortages. Employee shortages are a nationwide problem but staff shortages within school districts leave the committed staff overwhelmed and students underserved. This is a fast track to employee burnout and low student performance. Paying school employees adequate wages and ensuring we’re investing in quality employees for the long term are direct investments back into our community. As an employer, the school district has to address how to adequately pay employees, cover operational costs, implement building upgrades, and manage challenges associated with population expansion all while keeping up with record inflation. These challenges may seem insurmountable, but we must be willing to invest in public education for the betterment of our nation’s future. 

3. What is your general background? 

I was born and raised on a cattle ranch south of Lewistown and attended the Lewistown Schools from kindergarten through high school. After graduating from Fergus High School, I went on to Carroll College. There, I graduated with honors and earned a bachelor’s degree in Biology and a minor in Spanish Language. In 2014 my husband, Paul, and I moved back to Lewistown and purchased Lewistown Veterinary Service. I operate the clinic, manage finances and inventory, and assist in veterinary procedures. Our children, ages 5, 4, and 2, are our greatest joy. Having grown up in Lewistown, I feel honored to be raising my family here and working within the Lewistown business community and the Central Montana agriculture community.

Kevin Hodge

1. Why are you running for the school board?

I am running for the school board to help students succeed to the best of their ability. I have watched across the nation as school boards have become more involved/complex and I thought I would like to serve the local community where I will soon have children attending the school district. My kids are 4, 2, and one on the way. I would like to be a part of the decision-making process in the Lewistown Public School District. I enjoy public service and have previously served as a Dillon City Council member, Beaverhead County Health Board member/chairman, with EMS agencies as an EMT in different communities that we have lived, and as a Fergus County Election Judge. 

2. What do you see as the major issues facing the Lewistown School District?

Major issues I see affecting the school district are funding for new and expanding facilities. I would like to help in recruiting and retaining highly qualified and skilled staff. It is a very competitive field at this current time, and I want to make our school district a competitive market for prospective employees. I look forward to the prospect of serving on the School Board. A close family friend and longtime Montana Superintendent always told me “Always make your decisions on what is best for the students” and you will stay on the right track. This is how I would intend to vote as a school board member.

3. What is your general background?

I have a BS in Natural Resources and Rangeland Ecology from MSU-Bozeman. I have worked for the state of Montana and federal agencies since graduating from college. We set our sights on Lewistown when we got married to raise children and to be close to family near Winnett. Once I got hired on at the BLM in Lewistown as a Rangeland Management Specialist, we knew we found our final destination. We arrived in Lewistown from Circle in July of 2019. We are very happy and blessed to raise our children in this great community. 

RJ Patterson

1. Why are you running for the school board?

I would like to do what I can to make sure that every student in our school system has the chance to receive the best education that they can.  I want to listen to the parents, teachers, school staff, administrators, and students in the School District to learn about what they need to make this school district be run and operate the best that it can.  I tell my own kids all the time that your education is something that no one can ever take away from you, and I would like to see our school system be the best that it can be.   

2. What do you see as the major issues facing the Lewistown School District?

I honestly couldn’t put my finger on any one thing at this time.  I think it will take me some time to learn what issues and challenges that our School District is facing and do what I can to try and help solve those problems.  I’m a quick learner and a good listener and feel like I would be up to speed on the issues challenging the District in a short amount of time. 

3. What is your general background?

I’m a 4th generation Montanan that understands what being from Montana means and what hard work is.  I own and operate a small tool manufacturing company that produces, markets, and distributes a product called the Slide Sledge and I am an agent with Fay Ranches.  My family (wife and two boys) and I moved to Lewistown almost five years ago and fell in love with the community, the people, and the area immediately. We have been truly blessed to make so many friends in that short amount of time and we are Golden Eagles through and through.  I will do whatever I can to make sure that Lewistown remains the Last Best Place in the Last Best Place.

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