School incumbents Bocanegra, Stoker likely to keep seats

Gronwoldt, Smith positioned to replace retiring board members

By Katie Gillespie, Columbian Education Reporter

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Continuity reigned supreme in two school board races in Clark County’s largest school districts, Evergreen and Vancouver Public Schools.

Political newcomers who received school board endorsements or teacher union support, meanwhile, replaced retiring school board members.

Evergreen

In Clark County’s largest school district, with more than 26,000 students and about $344 million in expenditures, incumbent Julie Bocanegra was leading Megan Miles with 61.02 percent for the District 1 position. That gives her a comfortable margin in preliminary results, and she’s likely to head into her second term on the board.

“I had some amazing supporters, and the work that we’re doing in Evergreen is being recognized statewide,” Bocanegra said. “I’m really excited about the things we’re doing for kids and families in our district.”

In District 5, meanwhile, Ginny Gronwoldt had 70.22 percent of the vote over Park Llafet. She’ll replace retiring school board member Michael Parsons.

“To get that huge lead is amazing,” Gronwoldt said. “I’m kind of astounded to realize there are that many people who believe in me and have faith in me and my ability to serve on the school board and lead our youth.”

Gronwoldt listed a school bond measure and school funding among her priorities for her term.

“We need to make sure our facilities are safe and secure,” Gronwoldt said.

On her campaign website and Facebook page, Gronwoldt listed Bocanegra as well as current school board members Rob Perkins and Victoria Bradford among her endorsements.

Bocanegra and Gronwoldt celebrated together at Main Event in east Vancouver — a party that prompted the district to issue a public meeting notice as a majority of current school board members planned to attend.

Vancouver

In Vancouver Public Schools, which has about 24,000 students and about $303 million in expenditures, Wendy Smith received 55.54 percent of the vote, while Heather Christiansen trailed with 43.84 percent of the vote for the Position 3 spot.

“I’m obviously very excited,” Smith said. “I’m very pleased with the results. I worked really hard; I’m glad to see it paid off.”

Smith and Christiansen were divided on charter schools and their professional experience. Smith touted her experience as a social studies teacher at Heritage High School and decried charter schools. Christiansen said she offered a unique expertise given her background working for Wilsonville-based FLIR Systems, and said charter schools may be “a good option” for students.

Smith, who was endorsed by the teacher’s union, said she was looking forward to working on expanding opportunities for students in need.

“I see the realities of those inequities in the classroom every day so that’s a high priority for me,” Smith said.

Smith will replace school director Kathy Gillespie, who is retiring after two terms on the board.

Incumbent Mark F. Stoker, an attorney and 10-year incumbent of the school board, won handily against Anthony Licerio, a political newcomer, with 79.97 percent in the Position 2 race.

Stoker told The Columbian this year he was looking forward to maintaining the district’s momentum, saying west county schools are on a “great trajectory toward achievement.”