Nine Candidates Apply to Fill Vacancy on Adams 12 School Board

Keep Westword Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Denver and help keep the future of Westword free.

Nine candidates have applied to fill a vacancy on the five-member Adams 12 Five Star school board. 

They are: Merylee Appel, Amira Assad-Lucas, Brian Batz, Andrew Been, Jessy Hamilton, Joseph Holt, Nicholas Jonson, James Joy and incumbent Rico Figueroa. 

The board has until May 1 to fill the vacancy. If the remaining four members do not reach a majority consensus, the board president will appoint someone. 

The story behind the vacancy is a long and complicated one. As we've previously reported, it all started in 2013. Candidate Amy Speers was running against Figueroa to represent District 4, which includes parts of Northglenn and Thornton. Shortly before the election, Adams 12 officials discovered that due to recent redistricting, Speers no longer lived in District 4. But she refused to drop out of the race. Speers kept campaigning and encouraged people to vote for her to send the message that they supported non-conservative candidates.

It worked, and Speers won the election.

But she couldn't take office. Figueroa believed that since Speers was ineligible, he should be considered the winner. He contested the election, but Broomfield District Court Judge Chris Melonakis disagreed with Figueroa's argument. Instead, Melonakis ruled that the District 4 seat should be declared vacant. "Figueroa was defeated by a nearly two-to-one margin," Melonakis wrote in his ruling. "The voters in his district expressed a clear intent not to elect him."

Figueroa appealed the ruling to the state Supreme Court. Last month, the high court agreed with Melonakis that the seat should be declared vacant.

On March 4, the Adams 12 school board declared a vacancy and began soliciting applications for the position. The board is scheduled to discuss the applications at a meeting on April 15, and the four current members will interview the candidates on April 22. Read a bit about each of the nine candidates below and click on their names to access their full applications.

The candidates are:

Merylee Appel, a retired nurse practitioner who lives in Thornton and whose two grown children graduated from Adams 12 schools

Amira Assad-Lucas, a mental health professional who lives in Thornton and has one child in elementary school in Adams 12

Brian Batz, a project manager who lives in Thornton and has three sons, one of whom is in college and two of whom attend Adams 12 schools

Andrew Been, a technical support engineer who lives in Welby

Rico Figueroa, who was appointed to the board in 2012 to fill a vacancy created when Heidi Williams resigned to become mayor of Thornton; Figueroa is the vice president of The Center for Relationship Education and has two children in Adams 12 schools

Jessy Hamilton, a history teacher for Aurora Public Schools who lives in Thornton

Joseph Holt, an electrical engineer who lives in Thornton

Nicholas Jonson, an attorney who lives in Northglenn and whose three grown children graduated from Adams 12

James Joy, retired executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado who lives in Thornton and who has a grandson in Adams 12

Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.