October 8, 2009 in Washington Voices

Write-in candidate seeks District 2 seat

Jeff Baxter challenges Robert Dompier in West Valley schools race
By The Spokesman-Review
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When the filing period for the November elections ended in early June, it appeared that three West Valley School District members were running unopposed for re-election. Since then, however, Jeff Baxter has launched an aggressive campaign as a write-in candidate against Robert Dompier, who holds the District 2 seat. Ballots will be mailed out beginning Friday.

Baxter said he didn’t decide to run until late June and hadn’t realized the filing deadline had already passed. Undeterred, he chose to run anyway. He sees the decision as a natural outgrowth of his involvement in the high school’s booster club and band and drama programs. “I’ve been very active in the school district,” he said. “I think I could be an asset to the school because I have a passion for the schools and the teachers.”

Baxter, 49, owns Baxter Group Inc., which does business as Bancard Systems Northwest and Northwest Leasing Systems. His companies set up credit card processing systems for businesses. He and his wife, Diane, have been married 24 years and have two sons, one a recent West Valley High School graduate and the other a junior. He has lived in the area for 12 years.

Baxter said he’s been to several school board meetings and doesn’t think the current board members are involved enough in the district by visiting schools and talking to teachers. “That’s part of their job, to be active in the schools,” he said.

Baxter said he goes out to knock on doors to introduce himself every night and has heard a lot of complaints. “I know there are a lot of dissatisfied people with the board because they’re not as active as they should be,” he said. People also complain about not knowing enough about what the board is doing, he said.

On the other hand, Baxter said he doesn’t have an issue with any specific decisions the board has made. He praised them for how the recent budget cuts were handled.

“I think I have something to offer,” he said. “I’m willing to stick my neck out, knock on some doors and spend some money.”

Robert Dompier was appointed to the school board in August 2000 to finish the term of Pete Schweda, who resigned. Since then he has run unopposed for re-election in 2001 and 2005.

Dompier applied for the vacant position in 2000 after volunteering with the district for some time. He served on several committees, including a facilities committee and a strategic planning committee. “At the time we had kids in the district,” he said. “It was something I just wanted to go ahead and do.”

His three children have all graduated, but Dompier has remained. “I have the expertise I’ve gained over the years,” he said. “We do a lot of good work. The board we have now is working well together.”

He wants to remain on the board to continue sound fiscal management and gains in student achievement. “We have not had a significant budget crisis as other districts around us,” he said. “We want to continue that.”

Dompier, 55, is a West Valley High School graduate and graduated from Gonzaga University and Gonzaga Law School. He and his wife Lorrie have been married for 33 years and have lived in the school district since 1984. He currently works as a revenue agent for the Washington state Department of Revenue.

Dompier was an attorney 28 years before being disbarred last year for allegedly emptying trust accounts he managed for his children and his nieces and nephews. A complaint was filed with the Washington State Bar Association and Dompier waived a disciplinary hearing.

He admitted no wrongdoing, Dompier said. “We just agreed to the end result.”

Baxter, however, points to the disbarment as proof that Dompier has violated the district’s code of governance, which calls for board members to show “honesty, integrity and respect for human dignity.”

“This was not my motivation for running, but this was brought to my attention dozens of times,” Baxter said. “They’re not happy about the situation because it was not acted on one way or the other.”

Dompier said that losing his license to practice law has no relation to his ability to work as a school board member. “It was a personal family matter and really has nothing to do with the school board.”

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