School-board candidate spike a good lesson

  • Evan Smith<br>Enterprise writer
  • Monday, March 3, 2008 11:53am

Two years ago, fewer than 15 percent of the school board members elected in King and Snohomish counties had opponents.

That meant almost no public debate over school issues.

The outlook for public debate is better this year with contests for 40 percent of the positions. Thirteen percent of the positions have three or more candidates, forcing primaries in August to narrow the field to two for November.

Most unopposed positions without opposition are in small districts like Index and Skykomish.

Controversies in Shoreline and nearby districts have brought out candidates.

In the Shoreline District, both positions on the ballot two years ago had only one candidate, but all of the three incumbents on this year’s ballot have opponents, guaranteeing some spirited debate at candidate forums throughout Shoreline and Lake Forest Park.

We’ll even see some of that debate before the primary, because one position has three candidates and another has four. It’s not surprising that the district with four candidates includes one of the schools scheduled for closure.

Even without the school-closing controversy, debate over school issues is good for the community. A retired longtime school board member once told me that he liked having opponents because it forced him to discuss school policies in public settings.

This year, we’ll get that kind of discussion.

Why so few candidates in Lake Forest Park

While Shoreline, Edmonds and Mountlake Terrace are starting contentious elections seasons, most positions in Lake Forest Park are uncontested.

Why are Lake Forest Park Mayor Dave Hutchinson and Council members Ed Sterner and Dwight Thompson all running unopposed? Unlike Shoreline, Edmonds and Mountlake Terrace, Lake Forest Park’s government has not split into factions, and, while the other cities have fought over issues of downtown development, Lake Forest Park has had no divisive issues.

With none of the big issues that have brought out candidates in Shoreline and other cities, someone told me, the new, early filing period might have caught potential candidates unaware.

Keep those FROG petitions coming in

My petition to rescind the designation of a State frog is getting some attention. The Olympian newspaper interviewed me last week, as did KIRO radio. Two TV stations also reported on the referendum.

Now, I need to translate that attention into signatures. I have less than a month to turn in petitions with 112,440 valid signatures to qualify a referendum to overturn the designation of the Pacific Chorus Frog as State amphibian.

I’m in sight of getting 40 signatures. With the attention, I may get another 400. It’s the final 112,000 I’m worried about.

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