Fresh blood is coming to the Spokane Public Schools board of directors. Three incumbents decided not to seek re-election, leaving a wide-open field for the Aug. 6 primary. Primary voters will pick one candidate for each seat, and the top two for each position will advance to November’s general election.
Whoever wins in November will face pressing issues: a chronic budget shortfall and whether a supplemental levy is needed to address it, implementation of a new sex ed curriculum, the question of whether to arm campus resource officers, and more.
Overall, the school district is in a good place, but voters need to decide which candidates can best address the challenges the district currently faces and anticipate the next set coming down the pike. Luckily, it seems like every candidate could bring a valuable perspective to the board, but some candidates, we believe, would better guide the district and encourage a robust debate in the lead-up to the general election.
Nikki Lockwood would bring a strong progressive voice to the board. She works as a regional organizer for the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington, and has been active in progressive organizations in Spokane. She opposes arming resource officers and is concerned about the school system’s financial system. She supports a supplemental levy. She is probably the top contender for this seat.
Brian Trimble would bring a different, more business-oriented perspective, as well as the experience of actually working as a public school teacher for 12 years. He owns and runs the Herzog Family Center. Like Lockwood, he opposes arming resource officers and supports a supplemental levy.
Katey Treloar is also a former teacher. She opposes the supplemental levy, wants more information before taking a position on arming resource officers and supports the new sex education curriculum.
The choice here isn’t easy, but we believe advancing Lockwood and Trimble to the general election would best serve the district.
All three candidates for this seat have considerable involvement in education. Luc Jasmin III owns Parkview Early Learning Center, Kelli MacFarlane has been a teacher in the school system for nearly 15 years, and Jenny Slagle has served on the system’s diversity advisory council for three years.
Of the three, only MacFarlane supports arming resource officers. All are open to putting a supplemental levy on the ballot, though MacFarlane isn’t a definitive yes. Jasmin and Slagle support the new sex ed curriculum, but MacFarlane isn’t sure.
Jasmin and Slagle would bring a helpful outside perspective to the board as well as additional ethnic diversity. Both have been endorsed by Spokane Democrats. Jasmin is Haitian-American with a strong entrepreneurial mindset. Slagle is of Native American descent and has worked for various tribal organizations. Progressive voters face a difficult decision between the two, but we’d give a slight edge to Jasmin.
MacFarlane is the clear choice for conservative voters.
This election is to fill out a two-year unexpired term for a seat last on the ballot in 2015. We believe retired administrator Kevin Morrison and district parent and physical therapist assistant Erin Georgen should advance to the general election. Morrison’s experience within the system and knowledge of how it works is unmatched. Georgen has some good ideas about training staff to deal with difficult disciplinary issues.
Both support a supplemental levy, though Morrison has some important caveats. He believes any levy should be targeted to meet specific funding needs, with the amount and purpose firmly established before going to voters.
The third candidate, Bill Baxley, supports arming resource officers and is making campus security his priority. That sets him apart, but he hasn’t raised any money and doesn’t seem to be exerting much effort otherwise in the campaign.
Vote by Aug. 6
Election Day is Aug. 6. All ballots must be mailed by then, but if you’re close to the deadline, the best bet is to drop yours off before 8 p.m. election night. County elections officials have placed drop boxes at the elections office and at libraries throughout the community.
Through the end of the day Thursday, only 9 percent of active registered voters had returned their ballots.
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