Tomorrow is the Primary Election Deadline
What Animates School Board Candidates? And What’s Happened to our Civil Commitment?
More School Board Director Clues
On Saturday (the day with only an online version of the “paper”) July 29th, the Spokesman carried an article by Ignacio Cowles entitled “Candidates for Deer Park School Board say they’re willing to go against state law”. In an election cycle in which a number of offices in Spokane County don’t have a single candidate (see below), the five member Deer Park School District 414 [2700 students] Board of Directors is remarkable for an “At Large” Director race that has drawn five candidates, the incumbent, Eric Keller, and four challengers. (There are two other Director seats, Areas 1 and 4, each with a current Director stepping down and each with two candidates who will appear on the ballot for the November general election, not in the primary. None of these nine total candidates reports to the Public Disclosure Commission having raised any campaign funds.)
Eric Keller, the incumbent, has served as a Director since his first election in 2007. He recalls only one prior challenger in four election cycles before this current one. What’s going on? Both the venue and the discussion topics for a recent candidate forum offer some clues. The forum was held at the Tri-County Christian Center, an Assembly of God Church in the southern part of the community of Deer Park. The forum was moderated by one of the church’s pastors, Tim White. (Recall that the Spokane County Republican Party is now led by another Assembly of God Pastor, Brian Noble.) During the two hour forum [the bold is mine]:
The topic of finances, a large part of the school board’s duties, was absent from discussion, and time ran out before any community questions could be answered.
Remarkably, one might think, especially for a pastor, Pastor White appears to advocate ignoring Washington State law [the bold is mine]:
As a final question, White presented the oath that school directors take when assuming office, which states, “When elected/appointed, directors shall take an oath or affirmation to support the Constitution of the United States and the state of Washington.”
“You swore an oath to support the constitution and the state of Washington, you didn’t swear an oath to obey the law,” White said.
Notably, every candidate was in favor of refusing to implement mandatory state policies if they considered it to be unconstitutional, with current legislation relating to gender-affirming care heavily referenced.
Mr. Keller, the incumbent, “who has served in the Navy Reserve, suggested that refusing to implement a state law could be similar to refusing a military order. Is that order going to get somebody hurt? …There are ways to refuse those orders.” Among the five candidates, Keller’s statement seemed the least enthusiastic endorsement of Pastor White’s suggestion. Elsewhere in the forum Mr. Keller is quoted in the article saying, “…some new laws are not in tune with the opinions of many in the community, but in the end, we have to follow the law, folks.”
Much of the rest of the discussion focused on the latest Republican obsessions over sex: who uses what bathroom, opposition to state law regarding gender-affirming care, and rumblings about sex ed. Considering that budget issues were never touched upon it was almost laughable that, in offering a “solution” for the bathroom use issue, two candidates, 74 year old Richard Price and 31 year old Samantha Jordan, both seized on “single occupant bathrooms.” Apparently, the remodeling and construction costs of such a proposal never occurred to either of them. Such blatant budget blindness ought to be disqualifying.
This is what school board director candidates have come to. If you vote in the Deer Park School District 414 consider this. If you know someone in the district, share this. One might hope that enough sober voters in the district turn in their ballots so that Mr. Keller is one of the two on the ballot in November. Having to choose between any two of the others in November would be really painful. Whether this happens will depend on turnout in the Primary—and you can bet that social media fora have been buzzing.
Meanwhile, on July 27th I received an email from firstname.lastname@example.org announcing a “Special 3 Day Filing Period” running from August 2, Wednesday, to August 4, Friday, this week. This Special Filing Period is for various positions noted below for which not a single person has signed up as a candidate. If only one person responds by signing up they would be a shoo-in at the November election. I was unable to learn how often historically there have been this many open positions for the Special Filing Period—regardless, this seems a sad commentary on the state of our civic engagement. Many of these boards and councils have only five positions. Some have three of those positions open. It is likely that many of these positions are governed by Bylaws that offer a mechanism with which to appoint someone to fill an empty seat, but still…
Open positions currently for which no Candidate has filed:
Town of Spangle [population around 300]– (Mayor)
Town of Waverly [population around 100]– (Council Position No. 5)
Orchard Prairie School District [the second smallest school district in WA State with less than 100 students] - (Director Position No. 3 and 5)
Fire District No. 2 – (Commissioner Position No. 1, 2 and 3)
Fire District No. 10 – (Commissioner Position No. 2)
Irvin Water District - (Commissioner Position No. 2)
Val of The Horse Water District - (Commissioner Position No. 1)
Vel-View Water District – (Commissioner Position No. 1, 2 and 3)
Hangman Hills Water District – (Commissioner Position No. 1, 2 and 3)
Spangle Cemetery District – (Commissioner Position No. 2)
Waverly Cemetery District – (Commissioner Position No. 1, 2, and 3)
Take the time to do the research and turn in your ballot to a drop box by tomorrow at 8PM.
Keep to the high ground,
P.S. You, too, can sign up for free email notifications from Spokane County at https://www.spokanecounty.org/list.aspx. Scroll down to “Elections”.
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