Choices abound for GMG voters

GREEN MOUNTAIN — With less than two weeks to go until voters decide who will fill four school board positions at Green Mountain-Garwin Community School District, candidates are making their cases to earn a seat.

Two of the seats up in the Sept. 12 election are at-large, and there are four candidates vying for those spots. The other two seats each have one candidate; one seat represents District 1, covering Green Mountain, and the other represents District 2, covering Garwin.

“I want to be a part of the team that can help do something better for the community, for the schools and for the kids,” said candidate Dino Baldazo, one of the challengers for an at-large seat at GMG. “I have kids myself, and I’m very appreciative about my kids’ education.”

He said his three children, one eighth grader and one high school junior, like life at GMG and are involved in sports.

A project coordinator at Electro-Motive Diesel, Baldazo said he knows how to be a leader.

“I’m a take-charge type of a person,” he said. “It’s a group effort, and I work well with groups.”

A self-described “people person,” Baldazo said he can set goals, do research and get things done.

At-large board member and incumbent candidate Patrick Cornwell said he would like to continue on the path the board has before it.

“I think we’ve got some good things going, and we’re making some headway on being able to do basic repairs on the buildings,” he said. “I’d like to see that continue, the maintenance on those buildings.”

The Marshalltown firefighter and father of three GMG students said he likes to gather as much information about a topic before voting up or down.

“I try to look at everything from both sides, regardless of how I vote,” he said. “A lot of people would probably call that antagonistic … I just want to understand the whole topic, not just part of it.”

A board member who said he can play “devil’s advocate,” Cornwell said he’s enjoyed his time so far helping lead the district both he and his wife graduated from.

Only one candidate filed to represent GMG District 1, and Kyle Hall said he’s excited to get involved in the community.

“I thought, what better way to get involved with the community,” the 2004 graduate said, adding he and his family recently moved back to the district.

An account executive at Energy 106.7 FM radio station, Hall said he likes to do his research on issues.

“I tend to analyze and study, and I’m not afraid to tell people ‘no,'” he said. “I know there are a lot of big changes that could potentially be coming down the road with the Gladbrook-Reinbeck dissolution vote, if that happens; I’d like to be a part of that.”

Hall said he has two daughters in at the elementary level in the district, with his youngest daughter set to join her sisters as GMG students.

“This is something that I really want,” Hall said. “I don’t like to sit on the sidelines, I tend to be somebody who wants to be part of the action.”

On the other side of the district, in Garwin, candidate Nathan Holven has emerged to represent his area.

“I’m very active in the community,” the Garwin firefighter said, adding he works in human resources at John Deere in Waterloo.

Holven said he looked to run in District 2 because he felt it was “more of a local side for support” and that he wants the community be successful and to see the school board go in the right direction for not only the short term, but [the] long term.”

Hall and Holven are the only filed candidates in their respective districts.

Candidate and at-large incumbent Ann Jackson said she’s proud of what the board has accomplished since she was elected in 2013.

“I want to continue building upon that success and making GMG an even better district,” she said. “We’ve added a transitional kindergarten program, we’ve added an ag program at the high school, we’ve had a lot of safety improvements to our buildings.”

A former GMG teacher and current Marshalltown Schools teacher, Jackson said she brings an educator’s perspective to the board.

“I believe in quality public education and a lot of choices for parents that are public options,”

she said. “I think all public schools should be as strong as they can be.”

Jackson’s three children, a third grader, seventh grader and high school freshman, go to GMG. She described herself as a good listener.

“I listen well to all constituents, and I’m not afraid to bring concerns of constituents to the board table,” Jackson said. “I’ve shown that I’m dedicated to being a member of the board, and dedicated to helping GMG grow.”

At-large challenger Randy Sienknecht said now is the optimal time for him to run.

“I was asked, and I felt like it’d be a way to give back to the community,” he said of why he filed. “My children are young, and I probably have more time now than I will as they get older.”

Sienknecht farms and raises cattle, and said he has previous experience as a member of a board.

“I understand how a board and a system like that works,” the former American Gelbveih Association board member said.

Sienknecht described himself as organized and detailed. He and his wife, Melissa, have two daughters in the school district, Addelyn in sixth grade and Alaney in first grade. Their third child, Ashton, who is 3 years old, will also be a GMG student.

“When I put my mind to something, I get it done,” Sienknecht said. “I’m ready to serve; we have a great school district, and I want to be a part of it.”

The school board election is Sept. 12. For more information, visit the Marshall County Auditor’s Office website at or the Tama County Auditor’s Office website at