Some campaigns are 'bloodier' than others | Bob Roegner

The race between Claire Wilson and Gail Crabtree for the Federal Way School Board provides two candidates with different backgrounds but similar goals.

Both are colorful, engaging and energetic. Wilson, with her trademark red glasses, has 30 years in education as a classroom teacher and more recently as executive director of early learning for the the Educational Service District.

Crabtree, who tends toward purple to blend the reds and blues of different political views, graduated from Federal Way schools, as did her children. She has been working with children in Romania and the Philippines for several years.

Both candidates want more focus on elementary education and meetings with parents outside formal board meetings to increase communication. They generally support current school board policies, but are concerned about issues at Thomas Jefferson and the dropout rate.

Both candidates are running a low budget campaign and have several volunteers.

Wilson has an edge in hands-on educational experience, and it shows. She has been endorsed by Mayor Skip Priest and retiring school board member Amye Bronson-Doherty, in addition to the Federal Way Education Association, Tacoma News Tribune and the Federal Way Mirror.

But Crabtree has experienced different cultures through her travels, which is an asset with Federal Way’s diverse student population.

Some campaigns are “bloodier” than others.

The race for a seat on the South King Fire and Rescue board of commissioners started with two of the candidates prominently displaying in campaign literature how much blood they had donated. Challenger Jerry Galland donated 372 units and incumbent James Fossos donated two gallons. I’m not sure which is more, but apparently the candidates believe the donations will make a difference in how the public votes.

Any race involving Jerry Galland is going to be interesting. Galland is always outspoken and has been a frequent critic of the board, and recognizes Fossos is likely the front-runner. So he tried a unique approach at the recent candidates forum by suggesting to the audience, and the many firefighters in attendance, that electing him would be a good way reduce his criticism. If they don’t, he will continue to speak his mind about board actions. That may demonstrate that Galland understands how boards function, but it may not work as a campaign tactic.

However, Galland does represent a view within the community: that an additional person outside the firefighting world may be needed on the board to provide more of a check and balance. Not long ago, the board proposed Prop. 1 to add a benefit charge to replace revenue lost due to the economic downturn. It was rejected by the public, with Galland one of the leaders of the opposition. Is Galland the right person to provide that balance?

Fossos’ career was in firefighting, he knows the business inside and out, and his knowledge is helpful when evaluating specific needs.

Interesting contrast in candidates.

Do your homework. Next week: who will win all the races?


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