Originally posted to Nextdoor “Ask me Anything” on 10.29.18
Who am I voting for?
This answer has changed over the course of the campaign, starting from before my decision to run, so rather than just state an answer I will share the thought process that got me there…
My first suspicions were that Josh and Ida might be the best choices since they had made the past two years work despite challenges from two Willow Creek-aligned board member recusals related to the AG investigation.
If I didn’t run, the third spot would likely go to either Jen or Bonnie – both seemed to have a good view on things while also being outside of the fold enough to act independently and provide new ideas to our district.
Kurt seemed too invested in Willow Creek as a 10 year board member and current board president for my tastes. Having a Willow Creek founder on the board seems to have been a lightning rod for divisiveness.
Once I decided to run, that left two votes to add to my own. And my time on stage at three forums significantly shaped my opinion.
After the first forum, I was still open to Josh as a viable option. He was a lot better when he dropped his notes and spoke directly to the audience about not caring about school structure and only caring about good results. Bonnie was impressive to me and earned high marks. Ida was easily the most impassioned and spoke from the heart.
Between the first and second forums I had many conversations with a variety of folks, including staunch supporters of both sides. Bonnie and Ida became my frontrunners, with Josh still in the mix, for a variety of reasons.
Josh lost my confidence when he attacked his fellow board member from the stage at both the second and third forums. When Jen and Kurt chimed in as well, it drove the point home for me. I don’t want to serve on a board with anyone that openly attacks a team mate and singles out one member of a five person board as creating failure.
The blind confidence and forceful mandate with which Josh and his team then pushed their message became less than ideal in my book. I don’t want that style of politics to be the example our children look to when forming ideas of a democratic system. I saw circular logic, obfuscation of facts, and dodging details when specifically asked out of all three candidates.
The more I thought about that forceful message, the singular nature of their solution as the only viable solution, the more it rang in my ears as the opposite of a democratic process. That is not the tone you set when teamwork, variety of opinion, inclusive practices, and open ended optimism are the goals.
Bonnie and Ida, while I don’t agree with some of their tactical ideas, are open to negotiation and seem strategically aligned with benefitting all students regardless of which school they attend. I would happily work towards that strategy alongside them. As a lawyer focused on the family and a social worker with a focus on kids, they also bring impressive professional careers to bear on the role.
I believe Jen would be a viable candidate in that regard. She is plugged into the conversation, knows how to share information out to a broad audience, and seems open to conversation and negotiation.
Josh, for me, is permanently compromised from serving on the board due to his openly hostile stance toward a fellow board member, his open request to only vote for him as a slate of thee to guarantee a majority from day one, and a series of questionable votes in his recent past (supported 2013 campus split, approved decades of debt to buy portable buildings to do so, hired Steven Van Zant – Charter School King – now convicted criminal – to be our part time, remote superintendent for 3 years at ~$170k per year). His campaign promises are almost exact counters to all three of those controversial votes. Creating these problems does not best position you to fix them.
Kurt is smart, dedicated, and obviously well informed. Several of my friends commented he seemed condescending at the forums. That doesn’t really bother me, but may indicate how he’d act on a diverse board that challenged his views. A long-time neighbor of his shared absolutely glowing stories about his character over the years as a neighbor and father, so, you know, I’m not too concerned with some sharp stage conversations. I do have a concern though. As a 10 year Willow Creek board member and it’s current president, I don’t believe he is set up for success in a position overseeing both our schools. This is especially true while we are under active investigation for favoritism of our board toward Willow Creek that stemmed from the years a Willow Creek founder served on the board. Placing the President of the Willow Creek board on our district board just doesn’t seem the right message to send to our deeply divided district or the many different governing bodies expressing interest in our district (county, state AG, public opinion at large).
I want to work on a great team that reflects the values of our community. Even if I am not elected, I hope that I can happily and proudly support a board that accurately reflects the diversity of values and opinions that exist within our shared district.
So, the only hard no for me is Josh. Kurt is a smart candidate that may signal the wrong thing broadly. Jen seems a good option. Bonnie and Ida got my votes.