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Warner Student Runs For School Board

June 19, 2012, 6:00 PM by Erich Schaffhauser

Warner Student Runs For School Board
WARNER, SD -

There's a possibility Warner will have a teenager on its school board. An 18-year-old high school senior is one of two people running for an open seat on the board.

It was the first time since 2004 voters in Warner had more than one candidate run for an open school board position.

"I view that as a grave concern because I think it's a civic duty for people to be involved in it," high school senior Brian Peterson said.

And that's one reason Peterson decided to run.

Since he recently turned 18, he's old enough to be on the ballot despite still being in high school. A staff member at the school was in continuous contact with the Secretary of State's office to make sure everything was legal.

The candidate running against Peterson wasn't planning to but says people in the community encouraged him to run because of concerns they had with a student being on the school board.

"Brian's a very good kid, very good young man," Fred Marnette said. "If he'd have waited another year, I'd have gladly supported him but just too big a conflict of interest."

As they encouraged him to run, Marnette says numerous people in the community shared that concern with him.

He says there are times the board discusses personnel issues or discusses issues related to specific students in executive session. He argues it wouldn't be right for a student at the school to sit in on those.

"He's very smart; smart enough to do the job. I think he can do the job. I just don't think this is the right time for him to be doing this," Marnette said.

Peterson argues it would be valuable to have a student's perspective on the board when discussing various issues. And he says, as an 18-year-old, he's an adult and would act like one.

"I view that I'm mature enough to handle the situations in a fashion that is expected from any other board member," Peterson said.

Win or lose, come closing time at the polls, Peterson says his run for office has been a great experience.

State law says a district staff member can't serve on the school board, but there's nothing stopping a student from doing so.

Peterson recently turned 18 so he wasn't old enough to circulate his own petition to run for office so his mom circulated it for him.

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