Why Reier Erickson is the Best Candidate for the MRUSD School Board


Cooper O'Connell, Writer

Recently, the city seat for the Maple Run Unified School District school board has become vacant and there are two candidates running for the open position: Keith Longmore and Reier Erickson. Longmore is the owner and COO of Green Mountain Hemp Company on Main Street in Saint Albans and Erickson is a community activist, father of two and a stay-at-home dad. Erickson is an accessible, seemingly transparent, and approachable candidate compared to his opponent, Longmore. I believe Erickson is a better candidate due to his openness to discuss issues, affability and overall availability. 

Politicians and your everyday Joe have mastered the art of dodging questions and hiding from the press. When I contacted Erickson in regard to a piece about sending him a list of questions, he was more than happy to take part and promptly responded with: “Please let me know if there is anything I can do to be of assistance.” Erickson had no restrictions on questions, topics or the article format and was very accommodating. On the other hand, when I had reached out to Longmore, I received no response. In an effort to be fair and make sure he had every opportunity to lay out his vision for the district, I even visited his business in person to obtain an alternative email to contact him, and once again there was no reply to my email and interview request. I did some further research, and Longmore’s lack of engagement seems to be a common occurrence for other news outlets trying to start a dialogue with him. Longmore did not respond to several attempts to do an interview with Northwest Access TV, as well as declining to be interviewed or commenting for a VTDigger article on the race. Reier Erickson, being so open and cooperative as opposed to Longmore, shows that Erickson is not afraid to answer the tough questions, lay out a vision and advocate for his constituents. 

Some people might argue that Erickson, not being in favor of a School Resource Officer in community schools is a concern.  It was a concern for me. Erickson’s reasoning was “Overall, the SRO program just didn’t make sense from a fiscal standpoint. We were paying over $250,000, over a quarter of $1,000,000, for three part-time employees who didn’t have any reason to be on campus.”

When first hearing these views attributed to Erickson, I let his opinion on SROs and the first impressions I found of him influence my overall view of him as a candidate negatively. I believe SROs are a must when it comes to school safety. This is one area where I disagree with Erickson and tend to side with Longmore, who is staunchly in favor of SRO’s.  However, if we were to let one policy standpoint get in the way of overall candidate viability and effectiveness, we would never be able to accomplish anything.  I think politicians and voters should strive for progress and not ideological perfection.

You may be pondering “Why should I choose Erickson over Longmore?”  Erickson had also taken initiative to reach out to the BFA Mercury about the potential of hosting an open discussion and political forum to address student and community concerns. This was ultimately unable to take place due to time constraints. In his communication with The Mercury he said:  “These elections affect you the most and so many of you don’t have a say in it,” said Erickson in regard to MRUSD students. This shows how much Erickson values students’ input, how he isn’t afraid to be put in the spotlight to argue his views, whether you may agree with them or not and how reachable he really is as a member of the community and potential board representative.

Erickson has proven to be an accessible, transparent and approachable candidate. I am really disappointed Longmore didn’t reach back out to me as this article originally was supposed to compare Erickson and Longmore’s opinions on policies, so readers could be informed on different issues as well as me stating who I support as a student and why. In the beginning, I was really excited to find out that there was a candidate, Longmore, running with more conservative values. The process of contacting the candidates and trying to gather useful information for voters left me questioning, do I support the person with some of the same values as me or do I support the person I believe will do the best job? As much as I wanted those two to be one in the same, it just isn’t the case.

I was conflicted on whether or not to support Longmore or Erickson but, in the end, I choose to support Reier Erickson. If you had asked me a couple of weeks ago, I would have said Longmore, but after researching, exhausting my attempts to let Longmore present his platform and then alternatively having contact and meaningful discussions with Erickson, I am confident with my decision.