2019 School Board Elections – Meet your Candidates


Six candidates will be running for one of the three Waukee School Board positions open for election on November 5, 2019.

2019 School Board Election Candidates: 

The district asked each candidate to submit information about their personal lives, reason for running and qualifications. The below information was submitted by each candidate and was not verified by the district.

Dan Gehlbach

Dan Gehlbach’s Website to Campaign Information

Tell us about your family and occupation

  • My wife Staci and I have 2 daughters: Abby is a 6th grader at Waukee Middle School and Katy is a 3rd grader at Walnut Hills Elementary. I am the owner and Center Director of Mathnasium Leaning Center of West Des Moines. Prior to starting my business 9 years ago, I worked in internal audit and was an audit manager for Mercy Hospitals. My wife is a former teacher and I even taught high school in Japan for 2 years.

Why are you running for the Board of Education?

  • I am excited about the future of Waukee Schools and want to see this new wave of leadership on the board, along with Dr. Buck, include board members that are not only passionate about education, but also have the leadership and integrity that will see us forward after the turmoil of the last year. Serving our community and school district is something I have already dedicated myself to over the past years. I have also dedicated my career to seeing kids reach their goals and changing their lives through math. When I lost the election for school board in 2015, I chose to get more involved, not less. Serving on the Board is the best way for me to continue that service and give back to our schools. My top priorities include increased transparency and restoring trust along with a re-focus on education, while keeping up with growth and fighting for more state funding.

What qualifications do you believe make you a viable candidate?

  • I am a small business owner as well as a former internal auditor. My own business is blessed to focus on educating kids, but I am also prepared to use my experience in risk management, internal controls, financial reporting, and procedural compliance to provide the oversight to hold the administration accountable and increase transparency. I am currently a Board Member and the Scholarship Committee Chair for the Waukee Community Schools Foundation. I have also served on the Waukee Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, am a graduate of the West Des Moines Leadership Academy, and have volunteered both funds and time to many PTO events, booster clubs, and fundraisers over the years (including Striders, Watch D.O.G.S, and helping launch Walnut Hills’ first fun run). I have an MBA from Arizona State University, an undergraduate degree in business administration from the University of Kansas and am a Certified Internal Auditor. I have lived in the District for the past 13 years.

 

Wendy Marsh

Wendy Marsh’s Website to Campaign Information

Tell us about your family and occupation

  • I live in Clive with my twins, Tate and Darby, that attend Waukee High School. I am an attorney at Nyemaster Goode, P.C. in Des Moines.

Why are you running for the Board of Education?

  • As a resident of the district for over 20 years, I have watched Waukee grow from a fairly small district to one of the largest in the state that will soon have two high schools. I would like to add my voice and experience to setting the goals and visions of the district as it continues its unprecedented rate of growth. The district is at a crucial crossroad and it will be the job of the school board members to ensure it can continue to provide our kids with the tools they need to succeed, including the best teachers, educational opportunities and experiences. One of my primary goals would be to further enable communication of district goals and activities to the community through various available technologies, such as social media, e-mails, live feeds of board meetings, etc.

What qualifications do you believe make you a viable candidate?

  •  I have served on several boards and committees in the Waukee school district for many years, including the Waukee Rotary Club, Waukee Chamber of Commerce, Eason Elementary PTO, Bond Referendum Committee for the Second High School, and am currently serving as the secretary of the Waukee Schools Foundation. I believe I can take the pieces of knowledge and experience gained from each of these boards to successfully serve the Waukee school district as a member of the school board. In addition, my more than 25 years of legal experience have provided me with the ability to effectively advocate for public education in the community.

Michael Schrodt

Michael Schrodt’s Website to Campaign Information

Tell us about your family and occupation

  • I grew up in Altoona, IA and moved to Waukee 13 years ago.  Amy and I have been married for 13 years and we have 2 boys; Weston is in Preschool and Corbin is a Kindergartener at Maple Grove Elementary.  I received B.A. in economics from Simpson College in Indianola, IA and am currently an Operational Risk Consultant with over 10 of experience in the Mortgage and Financial industry focusing on analyzing financial decisions and identifying operational risks.

Why are you running for the Board of Education?

  • I am running for the Waukee School Board of Education to bring my experience in risk and root cause analysis to address the issues of the past and implement fiscally responsible spending habits to ensure that we can continue to provide a best-in-class education.
  • The goal of school should not be to only have the greatest students; but also, to produce the greatest adults.  To do so we must stop measuring success only through College Admission rates and ACT scores. We must include technical training and trade skills as part of the discussion and I want to build a path to help students who are not college bound graduate with a plan for their future.
  • I will work to ensure that in the Next Chapter of the Waukee Community School District my sons and all of our children are prepared for adulthood, is fiscally responsible with our current resources, and is a district that we can all be proud of.

What qualifications do you believe make you a viable candidate?

  • For 10 years I have worked in operational risk and it has given me the skills necessary to get beyond the symptoms on the surface and address the policies and procedures at the root cause to establish long term and systemic improvements.  In addition, I served for over 7 years as the Finance Committee Chair in my church where I concentrated on debt reduction and budget management. I worked with the various committees and congregants to ensured that our spending plan matched our goals.  I identified a need in Waukee and led the creation an organization called “The Table” that serves a hot meal to those in Waukee that have food insecurity. In both my career and in my non-profit volunteering I have worked to bring people together around common goals because when everyone is working together nothing is out of reach.

Alex Smith

Alex Smith’s Website to Campaign Information

Tell us about your family and occupation

  • I met my wife, Emily, while I was a Research Assistant in the lab she was performing her Biochemistry Ph.D. work in at Washington University in St. Louis. She grew up in Clive, Iowa. Emily taught at Truman State University in Kirksville, Missouri while I was a medical student. Since medical school, I have been very fortunate to have her as our Household CEO and mother to the two best kids in the world, Nick and Elise. Nick is a 7th grader at Waukee Middle School and Elise is a 5th grader at Shuler Elementary. I am currently the Medical Director of LifeServe Blood Center.

Why are you running for the Board of Education?

  • I am running for the Waukee School Board to make mental health a top priority for our district, to work for full-funding of our schools, and to take our school board to the highest levels of professionalism.

What qualifications do you believe make you a viable candidate?

  • MENTAL HEALTH – As a physician, and someone who has personally dealt with the ramifications of mental illnesses, I understand the significant impact they have on our lives. I have worked in mental health areas of hospitals, started a mental health outreach group while an undergraduate, and currently serve on the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Iowa Advocacy Committee.
  • PUBLIC EDUCATION FUNDING – Iowa’s public schools are seeing the longest run of underfunding since the funding formula was created, with some schools not even being able to cover inflation. With my experience on the Iowa Medical Society’s Committee on Legislation and NAMI’s Advocacy Committee, I will work with the newly forming Waukee School Board Legislative Advocacy Committee to ensure that Waukee Schools gets the funding that our students, teachers, and staff need.
  • PROFESSIONALISM – In addition to the committees listed above, I participate in LifeServe Blood Center’s board meetings and serve on Clive’s Planning & Zoning Commission. With the preceding, and my leadership experiences in the United States Navy, I have ability to help take the Waukee School Board to the highest levels of professionalism.

Armel Traore Dit Nignan

Armel Traore Dit Nignan’s Website to Campaign Information

Tell us about your family and occupation

  • Nicole and I just celebrated our 9th wedding anniversary and have two sons named John Henry and Theo. I am an analytics consultant, and my role is to assist leaders in leveraging data science and technology to deliver more value for our customers.

Why are you running for the Board of Education?

  • My story is one of a kid who grew up in one of the poorest countries in the world, and through education and the right support has been able to create a new life for himself and others. I want to do the same for our children by serving to the best of my abilities, with a commitment to transparency and integrity.

What qualifications do you believe make you a viable candidate?

  • The world is undergoing some major changes that affect our lives, our beliefs, the way we work, the way we interact with one another and the way we learn. The pace of change is drastic and creates both challenges and opportunities, especially for our younger generations. My line of work gives me a unique perspective into what we must do for our children to strive in that world and I am running to help EVERY child find their place in it.

Terry Welker

Terry Welker’s Website to Campaign Information

  • I have no website dedicated specifically to the election or it’s activities.  I have posted the background and reasoning for seeking a seat on the School Board on social media.  Voters are welcome to visit my Facebook homepage.

Tell us about your family and occupation

  • I grew up in Des Moines and graduated from Des Moines Public Schools. I currently live in Urbandale with my wife Jann, and daughter Charli (who is a 4th grader at Walnut Hills Elementary School). I am a retired Fire Chief and criminal investigator, who was asked by the City Manager in Scottsdale, Arizona to assume the Chief HR Officer role during the most recent Recession (2009). We moved back to Urbandale in October of 2012 when family needed more support than we could give from Arizona. Waukee Schools hired me in 2012 as the HR Executive for the District and I worked there until July of 2017. I have a Master’s Degree in Human Resources and was invited to study at the John F. Kennedy School of Government by Harvard University for a Summer Fellowship. Today, I am pursuing my PhD in Education at Drake University where I currently serve as an Assistant Professor, teaching classes to aspiring K-12 school Superintendents.  I also teach for the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) in areas of employment law and compensation.

Why are you running for the Board of Education?

  • Simply put, I want to contribute to the best school district in the State and continue to prepare our kids to become our future. More specifically, I want to Advocate for appropriate funding for our schools and teachers; I want to insure we provide Equity within the curriculum between boys and girls and I intend to insure full Transparency during board meetings.

What qualifications do you believe make you a viable candidate?

  • I am excited for the opportunity to serve the school district again in a different capacity. I actively participate on two other non-profit Boards currently and just stepped-off of a third board to serve the school district.  I know the difference between an active member, and one who just shows up. Board members need to be committed to advocating for the district and I have done that. We need to lead by example, do the right thing and remember to put what is best for kids first in the conversations (and I have done this also). I have a 25-year history of serving my community within Public Safety and as the Human Resources executive.  I would appreciate the opportunity to serve again.

School board members play significant roles in their communities and must exemplify leadership, vision, and dedication. School board members are locally elected public officials charged with accountability for student learning, determining educational goals, setting policy, overseeing school finances and other duties. Across Iowa, nearly 2,000 people serve on local school boards, guiding the education of more than 475,000 young people at an annual expenditure of more than $5.1 billion.

School board members are elected to serve four-year terms, with elections taking place in odd-numbered years. Those elected receive no pay.

The three seats currently held by Susan Bunz, Ethan Huisman, and Jerry Ripperger are up for the full four-year term. David Cunningham, Wendy Liskey, Lori Lyon, and Mary Scheve board seats will be up for re-election or election in 2021.

The filing period for school election candidates ended on September 19. Nomination papers were delivered to the county auditor on September 20, 2019.

Save-the-Date

The Waukee Area Chamber of Commerce will host the Waukee School Board Election Forum on October 17, 2019, at 6:00 p.m. at the Prairieview Theater Arts Center, 655 SE University Ave., Waukee, IA 50263. This will be an opportunity for stakeholders to get to know the candidates running for election.