One of the current board members for VPS is stepping down July 31st. Michelle Giovannozzi has been an honorable board member and deserves to be thanked for her service to our community. This however opens an interesting scenario: appoint a person to the open seat while there are 4 people working hard to get elected to this position, plus another 8 people to the other 2 seats.
On Tuesday July 9th community members and candidates spoke out at the VPS board meeting about not appointing anyone on the ballot to the open position. This is the statement I read at the meeting:
Good evening board members, cabinet members and guests.
I am Lisa Messer, one of the candidates for Vancouver School Board position no 4 and I am up here today to speak about the importance of the board honoring an open and fair election. I would like to start with a quote from Abraham Lincoln: “Elections belong to the people. It’s their decision.”
Right now the voters of Vancouver School District have a decision. Currently we are in the middle of a very interesting election. We are the only district in the County having a primary, 12 citizens seeking three positions. I ask the board to respect the decision that the people of Vancouver have and to not appoint any candidate on the ballot to the soon to be open school board seat. To appoint a candidate on the ballot would be equivalent to the board manipulating this election.
It would be taking the decision away from the people.
At the June 25th board meeting some board members seemed unsure that appointing a candidate to the open position would be manipulating. I want to assure those board members that it would be. It would take away the decision from the voters and give the decision to 4 board members instead. As one of the 12 candidates I’ve been able to attend events to meet voters.
Every event I’ve gone to I have meet with multiple people that voice the concern that Vancouver Public Schools is not listening to the public. The voters in Vancouver emphatically want to have their voices heard. The best way to have their voices heard is to allow this election to be open and honest. To let the people make their decision.
I am working hard to become a board member, just like the other candidates, and I really want to sit in one of those comfy looking chairs one day. But I don’t want to make it onto the board by appointment after being picked by 4 people. I want to make it there after an open and honest election and being picked by thousands of people. To repeat what Lincoln said “It’s their decision”.
There is a simple solution to this problem. The remaining board members need to appoint a person not on the ballot. There are many citizens who would enthusiastically serve for 4 months between the appointment and the election. I encourage the board to appoint to the vacancy a person not on the ballot.