Voters in the Central Valley School District elected school board candidates with opposing views on pandemic policies in Tuesday’s election.
Nursing school instructor Pam Orebaugh who argued against mask and vaccine mandates, won a seat on the board.
Her top challenger, write-in candidate Stan Chalich, appeared to garner around 34% of the vote. That’s an impressive tally for a write-in candidate, but was well behind Orebaugh’s tally of about 42% of the votes.
“The results look very positive and reassuring,” Orebaugh said Tuesday night. Candidate Rob Linebarger, who was on the ballot but endorsed Orebaugh, received 23% of the votes.
In the other Central Valley School Board race on Tuesday’s ballot, retired Central Valley teacher Teresa Landa defeated write-in candidate, Bret Howell, who had argued against mask and vaccine mandates.
Landa, who ran unopposed in the primary won 83.8% of votes. Write-in candidate Bret Howell, appeared to tally around 16%.
“I’m very happy with the results,” Landa said. “The district has been part of most of my life and I’m excited to serve them.”
She gave credit to former District 2 representative Tom Dingus, saying that his time on the board made for “big shoes to fill.”
“Gosh, I’m surprised. I thought it would be really close but I want to wish my best to Teresa Landa,” Howell said.
The election caps a contentious autumn in Spokane County’s second-largest district. It began with a board meeting that ended abruptly when attendees refused to wear masks and continued with a failed recall effort against the three board members who weren’t up for reelection.
Both races were dominated by the COVID-19 pandemic and how it’s been handled by those in power: Gov. Jay Inslee and the current Central Valley board.
In an interview last week, Chalich, a retired teacher, referred to Orebaugh’s followers as a “radical group trying to push their interests down your throat.”
However, Orebaugh said her supporters said that the bully is Inslee.
“We’re being labeled as right-wing extremists, but all we’re asking for is to follow the Constitution.”
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