disbanded as a political committee last year, but its members are apparently still working to choose the candidates who will best represent their interests on the Joplin R-8 Board of Education.
Judging from the 40-days-before-election report she filed Monday with the Missouri Ethics Commission, members of the former Progress Committee are backing retired teacher Mary Gaarder for a three-year term.
Gaarder is one of four candidates, along with incumbent Jennifer Martucci, Empire District Electric attorney Sharrock Dermott, and Melissa Rodgers, running for two three-year seats.
Gaarder raised $2,050, with the biggest amount, $800, coming from her own pocket.
Otherwise, she received money from three contributors who were listed, all of whom were connected with the Progress Committee- $250 from Michael Pence, who is also serving as Gaarder's campaign treasurer, $150 from Abbey Title Company owner Barbara Hicklin, and $150 from Dorothy Willcoxon. Pence and Hicklin contributed to the Progress Committee, as did Willcoxon's husband, Robert.
Pence, Hicklin, and Willcoxon all backed efforts last summer by C. J. Huff and former board member Mike Landis to take the selection of replacements for board members out of the hands of the people's elected representatives last summer and hand the choices to the Jasper County Commission.
The three were among 65 people, including more than a dozen Progress Committee members and R-8 Board member Lynda Banwart, who signed petitions asking the County Commission to appoint replacements for Lane Roberts, Randy Steele, and Mike Landis. (Landis also signed the petition.)
Willcoxon also serves on the board of Bright Futures Joplin., As noted earlier in the Turner Report, Bright Futures Joplin, which recently was cut loose by the R-8 Board, has been vetting school board candidates.
Gaarder also received $600 from unnamed sources, listed in the category of those who contributed $100 or less.