Vancouver school board candidate queried on racy photos

By Tom Vogt, Columbian science, military & history reporter

Published:

Updated: October 6, 2011, 9:09 AM

 
photoBob Travis

A Vancouver school board candidate said his Facebook page that showed revealing, suggestive photographs of young women — some headlined “jailbait” — was a “stupid idea” and will be taken down.

Candidate Bob Travis was being interviewed by the Columbian Editorial Board on Wednesday. He and incumbent Dale Rice were there with the board when the question of Travis’ Facebook photos came up.

The interview took an abrupt shift from educational policy when Travis was asked about the Facebook page with a gallery of images. Some featured barely dressed young women, others displayed young people mimicking sexual positions.

When asked if the images were appropriate for a candidate for public office — especially for someone running for school board, Travis replied: “No.”

“I didn’t realize those were still up, and I will be taking them down shortly,” Travis said.

Travis cited the tongue-in-cheek nature of several images, explaining that “It was an attempt at humor. There are two ways to interpret each (image) and that’s what I was going for.”

Travis acknowledged parents of school-age children would likely be offended by some of the labels — including “jailbait” — accompanying the images.

“They were up long before I thought about running for office,” Travis said. “Had I remembered, I would have taken them down long ago.”

In a follow-up interview after the editorial board session, Travis summed it up this way: “All in all, a stupid idea.”

Travis also revealed a personal challenge in another online site where he talks about his ongoing recovery from a drug addiction. “I was a child of the ’60s,” Travis said.

For him, substance abuse started as a chubby kid trying to be popular, Travis said, and it became what he called “a 35-year battle.”

In November, he will observe seven years with no “mood- or mind-altering substances,” Travis said.

“I’m open about it because people still are suffering,” Travis said. He said he wants people to know that, “You can turn your life around.”

A couple of hours after the meeting, Travis emailed an update about the images.

“I took them down today and posted what I thought was a heartfelt apology to anyone that may have been offended by their existence in the first place. As I said on Facebook, the mere placing of those items on my page was a horrible decision on my part and obviously brings into question my character and my moral compass. I wanted to let you know that they were not an indication of how I feel about the issues at hand, nor are they a ‘window into my mind’ or my moral character. It was, quite simply, a case of me not properly vetting all of the pictures in the group before I posted them.”

Travis added the posting of those images “doesn’t shed any light or add anything constructive to the conversation I wish to have in this campaign — the issues that face our school district and our school board.”