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Cohen, Pirtle battle for vacant Havasu school board seat

Two new members will join the Lake Havasu Unified School District’s Governing Board next year, but the race is still on for a third member to take on the remainder of a term left vacant by former school board member Allen Ward.

Ward vacated his position due to a family emergency, and two years of his term remain. School Board member Nichole Cohen, who will this year end her first four-year term on the board, announced her candidacy for Ward’s seat earlier this year. In the November general election, Cohen will face Arizona State University Senior Lecturer Danny Pirtle for the board’s single vacant seat.


Nichole Cohen

According to Cohen, Havasu residents have shown excellent support for her school board campaign this year. Voters were surprised when Ward vacated his seat earlier this year, she said, and Cohen saw the need to replace him as a fellow conservative on the board.

A California native, Cohen is not an educator herself, but has raised three children alongside her husband. She has lived in Lake Havasu City for more than 10 years

“I want to return logic, reason and constitutional studies to the classroom,” Cohen said Wednesday. “It’s the only way to teach self-government and preserve our constitutional republic. I want to continue to provide solutions to problems identified in the school district and continue to be a voice for taxpayers and demonstrate, through action, the transparency they deserve.”

Cohen filed a complaint against the school district earlier this month in reference to accusations that fellow school board member Kathy Cox and supporters of Pirtle within the school district unlawfully collected such signatures on Pirtle’s behalf, on school district property.

Cox has since admitted to those incidents, but refuted the extent of Cohen’s accusation, and has said Pirtle was not involved or had any knowledge of her gathering of petition signatures for his campaign.


Danny Pirtle

Pirtle is a recent arrival in Havasu, having moved to the city from Dallas in 2016. With Pirtle, however, comes more than a decade of experience in higher education and community service.

“I taught middle school and high school social studies at a juvenile justice charter school early in my professional career,” Pirtle said. “I have served ten years as the camp director for the YWCA of Bucks County, a summer program for preschool and elementary school students. I’ve been teaching at the college level for almost 15 years.”

Pirtle is now a senior lecturer at ASU Havasu, where he teaches courses in criminal justice. He chose to run for Ward’s vacant seat as a supporter of community service and public education.

“I’ve always been very active in our community since arriving, and I see the school board as an opportunity to continue my service to this community,” Pirtle said. “I am a huge proponent of public education and feel my professional and academic experience would make me a great candidate. More importantly, my experience prepares me to work as a good ‘teammate’ to other members of the board.”

According to Pirtle, support for his campaign has left him humbled. “I’m truly blessed to have (supporters’) knowledge, experience and support. And I’m overjoyed by the random acts of support I’ve received by members of this community.”

Pirtle says he has no agenda, however. “”It would be disingenuous for me to set out a list of goals without speaking to students, parents and community members,” Pirtle said. “My only goal is to be an advocate for our students and educators, and to work as an informed board member to move our district forward by informing our community about the issues that impact our district, and involving them in the decision-making process.”


by Brandon Messick, Today's News-Herald
Oct 22, 2018

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