SHIPROCK — Christina Aspaas became the newest member of the Central Consolidated School Board on Tuesday.

Aspaas, of Ojo Amarillo, was voted in by a 3-1 vote, with board member Hoskie Benally casting the only opposition vote. There were no abstentions.

Aspaas, an electrician and single mother, was up against two other candidates , Nenahnezad's Myron Begay and Kirtland's Randy Jensen, for the District 4 position. District 4 includes parts of Kirtland, Upper Fruitland, Sheep Springs, T'isstoh Sikaad, and Nenahnezad.

Third candidate Jensen did not attend the meeting because of a San Juan County Sheriff's Department order that does not allow him on district property. The February order followed a verbal dispute between Jensen and members of the board.

Though the district spokesman, James Preminger, said in an email that the district would make an allowance for Jensen during the meeting, Jensen said he requested a signed confirmation from Superintendent Don Levinski. The request was not met, Jensen said.

Jensen, who claims that the district violated his civil rights and is filing a lawsuit against the district for such, did not attend the meeting because he felt it could compromise his case.

Both Aspaas and Begay, on the other hand, answered a smorgasbord of questions. Board members asked the two candidates why education was important, what they knew about Common Core Standards, how they felt about the proposed district split, and what the name of the district superintendent was.


Oh, and, by the way, who of the United States president candidates had the better education policies?

"The Obama and Mitt Romney question I didn't think I was going to get a political question like that," said Aspaas. "It was awkward."

Aspaas has been an electrician for BHP Billiton for the past 20 years, and as long has been a volunteer for United Way. Her 19-year-old daughter graduated from Kirtland Central High School last year, though she said she hopes to continue supporting the district's push for improved education so other students also can graduate.

"The main focus should be the students plain and simple," Aspaas said.

Aspaas had limited knowledge of the Common Core Standards, as did Begay, though she said she had some idea of how to better work with teacher unions because of her own familiarity with unions at her own job.

Aspaas replaces former board member Dr. Chad Wood, who resigned last month to take a job in Utah. Wood last September took the place of Bernice Benally, who passed away that same month.

Aspaas is expected to finish out Benally's term, which lasts until the election in February 2013. Aspaas hopes to run for election in February, though she said it could depend on how well she can balance her responsibilities to her job and to the board position.

"This is new, so I hope to do whatever I can do bring a positive image back to the school district," said Aspaas.