Nampa trustee incumbents, 1 of 2 in West Ada schools ousted in election

All but one incumbent school board trustee candidate on the ballot in the West Ada School District and the once financially troubled Nampa district lost their seats in a light turnout of voters Tuesday.

Voters also rejected creation of a Kuna Recreation District that would have levied taxes to build and operate an indoor aquatic and recreation center. The measure barely won a majority of Ada County voters, but fell short in the Canyon County portion of the district.

In the Nampa School District, Daren Coon and Jocabed Veloz, two trustees who were in office as the district slogged through financial problems largely of its own making in 2012, lost by sizable margins. They are the last two trustees in office during the financial crisis to face the voters. A third chose not to run, a fourth was defeated two years ago, and one was re-elected. Mandy Simpson, a math teacher at Capital High School in Boise and president of the Nampa teachers union at the height of the financial problems, easily defeated Veloz.

In the face of a cash-strapped district, Simpson fought unsuccessfully for more money for teachers.

Janelle Stauffer, a clinical social worker, defeated Coon.

During the campaign, Simpson and Stauffer criticized their opponents for not doing more to listen to the community as trustees made decisions to close a school and to eliminate busing to a dual-language magnet elementary school to save the district money.

In the West Ada School District, Anne Ritter, who was seeking her fifth term, lost to Julie Madsen, a physician.

Mike Vuittonet, also seeking a fifth term on the board, defeated challenger Christine Bitler Whited.

Russell “Russ” Joki, who is involved with a lawsuit that could affect the board on which he will serve, also won election in West Ada.

Notus School District, trying for the third time in a year to get a nearly $5 million bond to replace a 90-year-old elementary school, was successful.

Overall voter turnout in Ada County was about 4 percent, although Kuna’s school, recreation and library elections drew between 18 and 20 percent turnout. Overall voter turnout in Canyon County was 7.7 percent.