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May 12, 2010 9:47 PM by Andy Koen

Board candidate claims wrong doing in race

A former school board candidate says that tax dollars were used to unfairly campaign against him in last year's school board race in Harrison School District 2.

Ed Ralston of Colorado Springs filed a complaint last week with the Colorado Secretary of State's Office claiming that the publication Promises Made, Promises Kept printed by the district gave his opponents, incumbent school board members Deborah Hendrix, Richard Price and Linda Pugh, an unfair advantage.

"What bothers me the most is that tax payers money is being used," Ralston said.

He says the introduction to the brochure itself is evidence that the document should be considered a political message.

It reads:

"Three and a half years ago, members of the Harrison School Board were elected by the community to steer the district in a new direction..."

"That right there tells me, the other two members were on the school board, and in turn they're talking directly about them (Hendrix, Price and Pugh) and what they've accomplished," Ralston said.

Board members Bill Zalman and Steve Hester were elected in 2003 and still served on the board in 2005 when Hendrix, Price and Pugh were elected.

Just two editions of Promises Made, Promises Kept have been published, the first in August of 2009 and the second in the following month.

Public Information Officer Jennifer Sprague oversaw the creation and distribution of the documents.  She says they are common district publications that celebrate achievement and are in no way campaign literature.

"Our district publications are a format that we use to show the community how district leadership is being innovated and how we are delivering on those promises," Sprague said.

The August edition of Promises Made, Promises Kept only displays photographs of the three incumbent candidates who were running for reelection at that time.   Board Vice President Victor Torres says the photo selection was intentional.

He claims the board members all gave a "thumbs-up" in approval of the document during a private meeting in the superintendent's office.

He also said at the time that it was clear to him that the intention of the brochure was to put the three incumbents "in a good light."

Ralston's complaint also contends that the three board members did not properly report their campaign expenses. 

A spokesperson for the Secretary of State's Office says their investigation has concluded and a hearing on the matter is expected to take place on Friday.

If the court finds in favor of Ralston, the school board members could be fined.

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