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News / Clark County News

7 VPS board candidates agree to not apply for open seat

Appointment amid an election season raises concerns

By Adam Littman, Columbian Staff Writer
Published: June 29, 2019, 5:25pm

A majority of the 11 candidates running for three positions on the Vancouver Public Schools board in November are asking the current board to appoint someone not running for election to an open seat on the board.

The board announced Tuesday that Michelle Giovannozzi is stepping down, leaving position No. 4 vacant as of July 31. According to a press release sent out by Caressa Milgrove, a candidate running for position No. 1, seven candidates met on Saturday to agree to boycott the appointment process. The candidates who agreed not to apply for the open seat were: Milgrove, Tracie Barrows, Lindsey Luis, Jennifer Hawks-Conright, Scott Dalesandro, Lisa Messer, and Kathy Decker. Candidates Thomas Higdon and Kyle Sproul declined to sign, and candidates Chris Lewis and Robert Stewart didn’t respond to Milgrove’s invitation to sign, according to her press release.

In a Facebook post on Saturday, Sproul wrote, “I am a candidate running for (position No. 1). I chose this position intentionally. I have no plans to apply for an interim appointment in position 4.” Higdon, Lewis and Stewart couldn’t be reached for comment on Saturday.

Decker, Stewart, Messer and Luis are the candidates running for position No. 4 in the August primary election. The issue some see with the board appointing one of the candidates is that it could influence that election.

School board member Wendy Smith, a teacher in neighboring Evergreen Public Schools, had similar concerns, telling The Columbian earlier this week that appointing a board member during election season is “problematic.” Smith said her ideal option is to appoint someone not running, and urged her fellow board members to commit to not appointing anyone on the general election ballot. Some of her fellow board members didn’t agree, though.

Applications will open on Aug. 5, the Friday before the primary election, and close Aug. 12, at which point the election results will likely be known. The board is slated to appoint someone by Aug. 21. The next school board meeting is at 5 p.m. July 9 at the Bates Center, 2921 Falk Road

If the board doesn’t make a decision within 90 days after Giovannozzi’s departure, Educational Service District 112 will appoint someone to the open seat.

Columbian Staff Writer