Patty Weiser is no stranger to the campaign trail. Her first “walk for a cause” took place as a 2-year old in California. Her mom pushed her in a stroller as they went door-to-door promoting an issue her mom felt strongly about.
Over the years, Weiser has continued to work for causes she believes in. Campaigning is in her DNA.
“Individuals really can make a difference, and that’s what campaigning is all about,” said Weiser.
As one of the co-chairs for Kids First, a citizens’ volunteer organization promoting Central Valley School District’s upcoming construction bond, she rallied about 50 volunteers – teachers, administrators, students and parents – on Saturday morning.
The group gathered in a parking lot at Sprague and Pines. With the “Rocky” theme song playing in the background, CV Superintendent Mike Pearson thanked Weiser and co-chair Anne Long for their continued effort in working to get the district’s construction bond passed.
The group’s mission Saturday was to walk through neighborhoods and encourage people to vote for the $75.75 million bond on the Nov. 7 ballot that, if passed, will fund the construction of two new schools in the district and remodel and add classrooms to two aging schools.
The Kids First organization campaigned last spring for a similar bond that got 57 percent, short of the necessary 60 percent supermajority needed to pass.
Weiser instructed the group on Saturday to speak from their hearts.
“Kids are so important to us. Tell our story, tell them about our numbers, and thank them for their support,” Weiser said.
Long, a school board member, told the volunteers to let voters know that passing the bond is “urgent; it’s critical.”
The district has only 16 available classrooms for growth in grades K-8 and expects an additional 5,300 students to enroll in the next 10 to 15 years.
But not everyone is convinced.
“We are not voting for this outrageous construction bond. For years citizens have been asked to vote for schools. I know people hate to hear the term ‘back in my day,’ but our schools were Spartan and built to educate – not provide a fancy fun place to spend our day,” said Lorna Bryans, a homeowner who lives in the district and didn’t attend the rally.
“Many young people today can’t add, subtract, read or write well. How many people can count change back? It’s a joke,” said Bryans, 71. “Taxes are gradually causing us seniors and families to lose homes, and cut back on basics just to survive.”
Nancy Baker, also a senior citizen, also didn’t attend the rally and doesn’t plan to vote for the bond.
“My husband and I are on a fixed income. We cannot afford to keep and maintain our home if our property taxes keep increasing. We are sympathetic about the needs of the school district, but when the well is empty, the well is empty,” said Baker.
“We’re available to answer people’s questions. I’ll meet them for coffee,” Long said, referring to anyone who has concerns.
Weiser said that some seniors may qualify for an exemption or reduction in their property taxes. They can call the Assessor’s Exemption Office at (509) 477-5754 for information.