Mason City School Board to hold special session Wednesday to deal with objection to improperly filled out nomination petitions for candidate

MASON CITY — The Mason City School Board will meet in special sessions on Wednesday to address a protest regarding the nomination forms filed by one of the candidates running for this November’s school board election.

Cristy Tass wanted to file to run for the seat on the board that will fill the vacancy created when Kristine Cassel announced her resignation from the board last fall after serving less than a year. The board appointed Petrerson Jean-Pierre to the seat until the next election, which will determine who serves the final two years of the unexpired term.

Tass on her affidavit of candidacy marked the “no” box on the line that asks if the candidate is running to fill a vacancy, but she had properly marked on her nomination petitions that she was running to fill a vacancy. After several protests were filed regarding the discrepancy, the board must now appoint a three-member panel made up of the board president, the board secretary, and another member of the board to determine whether Tass’ nomination petition should be accepted by the County Auditor, a process that must be done by the end of the business day on Wednesday.

Superintendent Dave Versteeg says that three-member panel will hold a hearing Wednesday afternoon.   “The prosecution or the objector will say ‘this is why I objected, this is what I think was wrong with the application and the petition’, and then Cristy gets a chance to defend why she did what she did, what she thinks. Then we go and have deliberations, make a decision, come out, have findings, and that’s the decision. The only appeal is to district court.”

Versteeg says this type of an objection process is very rare.   “In fact, we can only find one other case at a school board level in anybody’s recent memory. It doesn’t mean that people don’t misfile, it’s just that rarely is there an objection.”

Jodi Draper was one of many school board members who filed an objection. Draper says it wasn’t because she was questioning the character of the candidate, but she wants to make sure the paperwork process was done correctly.  “Not because I object to this person being on the ballot. I object by Iowa Code, we need the full paperwork. We have to do it right, so at the end of it there’s no questions, there’s no was this a legal vote, was it not. I absolutely applaud anybody who runs, I absolutely do, but we need to make sure that what we are doing is correct.”

The full school board will meet at 8 o’clock Wednesday morning to appoint the special three-member panel, and then that panel is tentatively scheduled to hold the hearing on the objection at 4 o’clock Wednesday afternoon. 

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