Two longtime Hockinson residents who take pride in the local schools are running for the only contested seat on the school board this year. Incumbent Patrick Carter is running unopposed for the seat to which he was appointed in November 2020.
In the District 1 race, incumbent Tim Hawkins faces Teresa VanNatta. Hawkins, who touts his volunteer service background in business, has been on the school board since September 2020. His challenger, VanNatta, is a third-grade teacher at Sifton Elementary School in the Evergreen district and, with her husband, Jim, has co-owned the Hockinson Market since 1996.
In response to The Columbian’s candidate questionnaire, both said they believe Hockinson schools provided their children an excellent education, and they are running to ensure the district continues to do so.
Hawkins said his experience in corporate business and on boards such as Summit View Church’s creative arts committee and Young Life of Clark County has taught him how to motivate leaders and listen to those whom he represents. VanNatta said her perspective as “an engaged community member, teacher, woman, wife, mother and grandmother” will bring a fresh voice and diversity to the school board.
Although many school board races nationally are about politics and culture wars this year, both candidates said they don’t want to see that occur in Hockinson.
“The school board’s role is to listen to community concerns, but ultimately act in the interest of our shared values,” VanNatta wrote. “In Hockinson, we have a long tradition of overwhelming community support for and trust in public education. … The school board’s role is to focus on these shared values that will maintain and strengthen Hockinson schools.”
Both candidates see the need for the board to run a maintenance and operations levy next year to fund continuing district operations. However, neither candidate indicated they were in favor of asking voters for money for athletic facilities.
“Stadiums and sports facilities will be off the table for quite a time until we recover financially,” Hawkins wrote, adding that the district is still feeling the financial effects of the pandemic and the lower student enrollment that resulted.
Hope Martinez of The Columbian contributed research assistance to this report.