Three candidates file for three GFPS board seats; no election in May


Three three-year terms on the school board are expiring this year.

The filing deadline was March 28.

Only three people filed so there will not be an election, according to the Cascade County elections office. The three candidates who filed have won by acclamation under state law. The write in deadline was 5 p.m. April 4, but no one filed.

The school board election would have cost the district, and taxpayers, an estimated $40,000.

The candidates who filed are incumbent Jeff Gray, Gordon Johnson and Mark Finnicum.

Johnson and Finnicum will fill the seats being vacated by Ann Janikula and Laura Vukasin.

The filing period for the school board opened Dec. 13 and in February, the school board approved a resolution calling for a school board election to be held on May 7.

Since the number of candidates is equal to the number of seats available, state law allows those candidates to win by acclamation and no election is required.

The school board also voted last week not to put a levy on the May ballot.

Johnson was formerly the conductor of the Great Falls Symphony. Finnicum is a financial advisor with Wells Fargo Advisors.

In an email to The Electric, Johnson said the community has identified economic growth, keeping young professionals in the workforce and creating higher paying jobs as priorities.

“The school trustees, as well as teachers, administrators and support staff, are dedicated professionals who use training and passion to facilitate learning which will contribute to the quality of life of our students. Together we can build upon all the qualities that make Great Falls special,” Johnson wrote. “The challenges are abundant. I do not claim to have all the answers. But, I am dedicated to work with others in order to seek out creative approaches to the district’s most pervasive problems. I will also recognize, and build upon, the successes that our school district has enjoyed over the years.”

Finnicum had two children in GFPS from Meadowlark to CMR and now has two grandchildren to follow that same track.

“I want to see Great Falls and now Great Falls Public Schools specifically step ahead and be better,” Finnicum said.

He said he’s seen good things in the district but wants to see it continuing the improve,

Finnicum started as a financial advisor with Edward Jones in 1999 and was the recipient of the Ted Jones Spirit of Caring Award in 2012. Finnicum moved his financial practice to Wells Fargo Advisors in 2013 and has earned the distinction of premier advisor, a designation held by a select group within the company.

Finnicum plays hockey and competes in CrossFit. He’s a past district governor with Rotary and is an active member of Toastmasters.

He said his financial background will be helpful in making sense of budgets and working with other board members to balance the needs of students and district staff with the burden on taxpayers.

In addition to conducting the symphony and serving with music related groups, Johnson chaired the Military Affairs Committee at the Chamber of Commerce and served on the park and recreation foundation board.

“This community has been very good to me. The people I have worked with have all been passionate and dedicated to making Great Falls a fabulous place to live, work and raise families,” Johnson said in an email. “I hope to call upon these people and enlist their ideas and vision to assist me in my role in serving on the School Board Trustee should I be elected.”