Candidates seek seat on Pawhuska Board of Education
Michael Tolson and Jeffrey Swan are opposing candidates in Tuesday’s election to fill a soon-to-be-vacated position on the Pawhuska Board of Education.
A five-year term in the local school board’s Office No. 1 will go to the winner of the election. A runoff election, if necessary, would be held April 5.
The Board of Education’s Office No. 1 has been held for the past eight years by Lori Loftis, who did not seek re-election.
Osage County Election Board Secretary Andrea Conner said two Pawhuska polling sites are to be used for Tuesday’s school election: Precinct 107 at Presbyterian Church, 101 E. 12th St., and Precinct 108 at Calvary Baptist Church, 620 E. 15th St. Voting takes place from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Early voting opportunities will be offered from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday and Friday at the Osage County Election Board office, 630 Kihekah Ave. in Pawhuska. Telephone (918) 287-3036.
Conner advised voters, candidates, campaign officials and volunteers to be very aware of and careful to not violate state election laws next Tuesday.
“Our precinct officials are going to be watching very closely on election day for illegal electioneering by candidates, zealous campaign staff and their volunteers,” she said. “It’s unlawful in Osage County and across the State of Oklahoma to electioneer within 300 feet of a ballot box.”
Jeff Swan is a lifelong Pawhuska resident who attended local schools through his 1993 graduation from Pawhuska High School. From 1993 to 1997, he attended Missouri Valley College on a wrestling scholarship. He was a member of the dean’s honor roll. Swan graduated from the college (which is located in Marshall, Missouri) with a bachelor’s degree in biology.
For the past 18 years, Swan has been employed in the research division of Phillips 66 and Chevron Phillips Chemical Company. His duties include budget management and policy review decisions on company projects involving federal and state environmental and safety issues.
He and his wife, Jamie, have three children: a son, Brycen, who is a PHS junior, and two daughters — Bryanna, a local seventh-grader, and Bryxlie, who is 3 years old. The older children have attended Pawhuska schools since they were in kindergarten.
Swan has been involved coaching Pawhuska Youth Sports for the past 14 years and was head coach of the Pawhuska Elks wrestling program for 12 years. He is a member of the Pawhuska Methodist Church.
Swan said he decided to seek the school board seat because he wants to help make a positive difference in his home district. He said he is committed to improving all aspects of the educational experience for the students, as well as for improving the quality of and support for local teachers and administrators.
“I intend to be in this for the long haul,” said Swan. “Important decisions are needed and I’m hoping help see to it that they are made.”
Mike Tolson is a 1978 Pawhuska High School graduate. Although he commutes from his Pawhuska home to his law office in Tulsa, he has maintained an active in the local community through his involvement with the Chamber of Commerce.
Tolson recently completed a three-year term on the chamber’s Board of Directors and he has also recently served as chamber’s interim director of economic development. Since last November, Tolson has been serving on a seven-member committee that is studying issues related to the Osage County Courthouse and downtown issues. He is the county committee’s co-chair.
Tolson recently served two years as president of the Pawhuska Huskies Quarterback Club.
He and his wife, Beverly, have three children: daughters Claire, a petroleum engineer in Houston, and Abby, an Oklahoma college student, and son Marshall, the youngest, who is in his freshman year at the University of Central Oklahoma.
After graduating from PHS, Mike Tolson studied at the University of Oklahoma and received a bachelor’s degree in business administration. He later earned a law degree from the University of Tulsa. He has been a practicing attorney since 1990.
“I had always hoped to get more involved after my youngest graduated,” Tolson said. “When the (school board) seat came open, I saw it as the opportunity I’d been waiting for.”
Tolson said the difficult economic situation will make for difficult decisions in the school district.
“I’m concerned about creating a better learning environment for the students and would like to look at ways that we can get the community to step up and help our schools even more than they have in the past.”