Elections

School districts face election surprises

The Rainier and Rochester school districts are dealing with election twists: a withdrawal from the Rainier school board race and a call to fill a two-month board vacancy in Rochester.

All Thurston County school districts have candidates on the ballot Nov. 3, but the only contested seat is in Tumwater, where board member Rita Luce will face Bill Profitt.

Here’s a rundown on the Rainier and Rochester races:

RAINIER

Rainier School Board member Pat Barrett, who did not file to run for re-election, automatically will get a two-year renewal in his position 4 seat in November because the sole candidate, Nicole Maley, withdrew from the ballot last month.

Maley withdrew from the race in order to deal with her husband’s health issues and because of concerns over what she considers a lack of transparency in the way the district handled the resignation of high school principal Jeff Weeks.

“If people are happy with the way the district is run and its current leadership ... then I don’t think it would be a good fit,” Maley said. “I’m not sure that I would be able to bring change. I’m just one small voice.”

Barrett said he had opted not to run after eight years on the board, but said that he would discuss with other board members whether he will resign or remain for two years.

“I had hoped that someone would step up and they’d get someone in there with kids in the district – and with energy,” he said.

His director district 4 seat not be on the November ballot, but it will return to the ballot in 2011 for the remaining two years of the term, said county auditor Kim Wyman.

Another school district race, for director district 5, will be on the ballot. School board chairwoman Rebecca Stillings is running for re-election.

ROCHESTER

The Rochester School District is seeking letters of interest to hold a two-month position filling the seat vacated in July by former board member Maurene Stubbins.

Though there will be one person on the November ballot to fill the rest of Stubbins’ term, state law requires school districts to appoint a replacement board member within 90 days of a vacancy, said Superintendent Jim Anderson. Otherwise, according to state law, the vacancy will be filled by Educational Service District 113, Anderson said.

The deadline to write a letter of interest is Friday, and the board plans to make an appointment on Wednesday.

District officials had thought that the November election would take care of the vacancy, but rechecked the law, Anderson said.

“We thought we better double check this,” he said.

The sole candidate on the ballot, Connie Smejkal, said that she has applied for the two-month term.

She said her interest in the school district is because her two children attend middle and high school there, and because of her job as director of Workforce and Continuing Education at Centralia College.

“I work with many of the graduates of the school system, from our school district and from other school districts from around the area,” she said.

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