In the 2006 election, the Hesperia Unified School District school board was rocked.


Three candidates, each endorsed and financially supported by the Hesperia Teachers Association union, were elected and joined at the same time. Hardy Black, Robert Kirk and Lee Rogers immediately took command of a school board they said had too long been subservient to administrators and made it very clear that things were going to change.


Halfway through their four-year term, things have settled down some, but it has been a contentious two years: There have been policy debates, controversial decisions to change the focus of some elementary schools and decisions on how cut costs in the face of a financial crisis that could affect the state and HUSD for years to come. Along the way, they weathered an attempted recall.


No matter who voters choose to fill the two empty seats on the board on election day -- incumbents Bruce Minton and Helen Rogers are not seeking reelection -- it's unlikely to change things, since the controlling majority will still be in place.


All six candidates -- Chris Bentley, Chris Lindsay, Bruce Henson, Frank Rich, Anthony Riley and Eric Swanson -- are seeking to lend their voices to the debate, even if they expect to be in the minority on the five-member board.


Bentley is a stay-at-home father, helping to raise four elementary school age children. He's long been an outspoken and controversial critic of the HUSD's administration who says he wants parents to have more of a voice in how the district is run and wants more transparency from the district.


"They pretty much said 'this is not your area of expertise, Mr. Bentley. Don't worry about it,'" he said. "Wrong thing to say to the wrong person."


A prominent member of the Hesperia Chamber of Commerce and a local financial advisor, Lindsay says he'd work together with other members of the board, but wants to exercise "civil disagreement."


"You need to have a board that has five points of view," he said. "If you encourage dissent as much among your friends as your enemies, that's when you get the full story."


IT manager Henson is spending no money on political advertising, but has been busy communicating with voters online, just like he'd like to see the HUSD doing.


"I believe in parent-teacher communications," he said. "The parents should know what's going on with their students and be able to track it more easily."


Rich is one of two candidates endorsed by the California School Employees Association, the union that represents the non-teacher, non-management employees of the HUSD. The IT coordinator formerly worked for the HUSD and is almost certainly a member of a minority bloc opposed to the current board majority, should he be elected.


"If you're going to avoid it because there's certain problems, then you shouldn't run," he said. "It doesn't matter if all five members are the best of friends; they're not always going to agree."


On the other hand, Riley, who works as San Bernardino County's Economic Development Director for airports, is a friend of the Kirk family. Like Kirk, he was endorsed by the HTA and if elected, he wouldn't follow the example of Minton, and get into the sometimes-nasty disagreements with other board members.


"You have to look at democracy as compromise," he said. "Leading by example means we can't have dissension openly, politically grandstanding or belittling another board member. ... That's not the example we should be setting."


In 2001, Swanson was endorsed and supported by the HTA. Five years later, he was pushed out by their new choices. Like Rich, he's now endorsed by the CSEA. No one has made any bones about it: Should he be elected back onto the board, he would be a loud voice in opposition to the current three-member controlling bloc.


"The light at the end of the tunnel is that we can put the district back to normal in two years," he said.


Beau Yarbrough can be reached at 956-7108 or at beau@hesperiastar.com.