Several candidates running unopposed for vacant seats
By Brett Nachtigall
HOT SPRINGS – Based on petitions turned in locally for Hot Springs City Council and Hot Springs School Board, there is going to be an election on June 8.
For Hot Springs City Council, there will only be one contested race, as Ward 1 incumbent Craig Romey will seek re-election against challenger Jeff Shannon. Romey has been a member of the Hot Springs City Council off-and-on over the past few years but earned his most recent seat after running unopposed in 2019. Shannon has been a resident of Hot Springs for 15 years and has previously run for some Fall River County elected positions, but this is his first time running for a council position.
All three of the other vacant city council seats are being filled by candidates running unopposed.
For Ward 2, Dave Burris will retain his council seat, which he earned unopposed in 2019 as well.
Newcomer Linda Varvel will be replacing Wes Grimes in Ward 3. Varvel, who was born and raised in Hot Springs, is retired but does work as a seasonal campground host at Cold Brook. Grimes chose not to seek re-election this year, fulfilling a one-year term from July 2020 to June 2021.
Ward 4 will once again be served by Debra Johnston, who was appointed to her current seat last year, despite losing to Caitlin Turner in an election for the other Ward 4 position on the council. Her current seat was made available after Bob Nelson moved to the mayor’s seat last year.
In addition to the Ward 1 race, there will also be an election for one seat on the Hot Springs Schools Board of Education.
There are a total of four vacant seats on the Hot Springs School Board – three 3-year term positions and one 2-year term position. With three people submitting petitions of the three 3-year terms, all of them will earn seats including incumbents Nikki Shaw and Ryan Walz and newcomer Colby Williams.
Shaw won election in 2018 and has been serving as the School Board Vice President for the past two years. She has three children – a daughter, age 23, and son age 22, who have both already graduated from Hot Springs High School, and another son aged 9 who is in the fourth grade. She is currently the Deputy Treasurer for Fall River County.
Walz earned his seat in 2019 after running unopposed for a two-year position. He has been manager of Sturdevant’s Auto Parts in Hot Springs for the past 19 years and has three sons aged 15, 9 and 4 years-old.
New to the school board this year, and fulfilling the other three-year term, is Colby Williams. He has lived in the Hot Springs School District for two years and has a son, age 13, who is a 7th grader at Hot Springs Middle School. Williams operates a construction/trucking company called WW Logistics Construction Services. He will be taking over Mark Walton’s position on the board, after he chose not to run for re-election this year after serving for a total of six years on the board.
Running for election on the June 8 election ballot for school board will be a pair of new candidates – Dean Burgess and Katie Burchfield – who are each looking to fulfill the one 2-year seat being vacated by Frances Stokes, who also chose not to run for re-election.
Burgess is a 1998 graduate of Hot Springs High School and is currently working for Burlington Northern Railroad. He has lived back in the school district for the past one-and-a-half years and has four children: three girls and one boy, aged 14, 11, 9 and 7.
Burchfield moved with her family to Hot Springs in 2019. She has four students in the district, including 9, 12 and 14 year-old girls, along with a 16 year-old son. She is a former elementary school teacher and is currently the children’s minister at Hot Springs’ Wesleyan Church.