Four applicants seek open West Ada trustee job

Doug Gochnour
Doug Gochnour

The candidates who submitted applications to be considered as a trustee to replace Julie Madsen come from government and private sector backgrounds.

One signed the petition to recall Madsen, who resigned Friday night rather than go through a May 17 recall election. One applicant says he volunteered to help the trustees navigate the backlash following the departure of Superintendent Linda Clark. Another lists as a reference Reid Olsen, a CPA and co-chair of the effort to recall three remaining trustees.

The Idaho Statesman contacted the candidates after obtaining copies of their applications – which are public records – from West Ada School District.

Madsen was from Zone 4, the northern part of the district. Trustees Russell Joki, Carol Sayles and Chairwoman Tina Dean are standing for the recall election May 17.

The applicants:

Steven Givens, 71, of Star, was a trustee for nine years, from the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s, and served as chairman. He’s the owner of Givens Hot Springs in Melba.

West Ada trustees. who Givens said he worked with, didn’t “have any experience to fight the battle they didn’t anticipate,” Givens said. They need help in building community relations and working with legislators. Givens says he would bring “stability” to the board. “I am not under a recall. Nobody is shooting at me.”

Givens, however, was critical of Clark’s leadership, saying he didn’t think she communicated well and was more interested in politics than education. Clark declined comment.

Doug Gochnour, 61, of Star, is retired from the U.S. Forest Service after 39 years. He was a city councilman for  3 1/2 years in John Day, Ore., and four years in Orofino.

Gochnour has experience with large institutional budgets and was supervisor of the Malheur National Forest in Oregon. He has a background in handling tense negotiations with disparate parties such as environmentalists, loggers, ranchers and Native American tribes, he said.

He signed a petition calling for Madsen’s recall, he said. It wasn’t so much pointed at her, but at the board being “dysfunctional,” he said. “If the existing board wants to hold that against me, that is their prerogative,” he said. “I hope they will look at my overall qualifications.”

Steven Purvis, 74, of Boise, is former director of finance and director of special projects and internal audit for the city of Boise. He was the liaison between forensic auditors and the Boise City Council, and later the city and the state, during the travel and spending scandal that led to then-Boise Mayor Brent Coles’ conviction for fraud and misuse of government money.

Purvis said he doesn’t come with a laundry list of things to accomplish as a trustee. He said he has been “appalled” at the way the board has acted, but he’s not in anybody’s camp. “If I choose to be a player, I need to be as independent as I can for both sides,” he said.

David Bell, 69, of Meridian, owns DC Bell Consulting Services, an engineering consultant for electronics manufacturing.

“I have become interested lately when the problems with the school board became more public,” he said in his application. “I feel my experience as an engineer and manager in the private sector will be a great advantage to the board.” He lists Olsen as a reference.

What’s next in the trustee appointment?

▪  Applications are still being taken. Download the form at the district website.

▪  Under Idaho law, remaining trustees are authorized to fill the vacancy.

▪  Trustees will interview applicants at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the District Service Center, 1303 E. Central Drive, Meridian.

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