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Common-sense conservative candidates win big in school board elections

Bellevue—The preliminary results from this general election are in. And the success rate of the WAGOP spotlighted and supported school board campaigns is outstanding.

Several months ago, the WAGOP identified 36 school board races from school districts all around the state to spotlight and support in this year’s general election. State parties don’t often get involved in local races, including school boards. The races are considered too local, too nonpartisan, and too risky.

For multiple reasons, the WAGOP decided to accept those challenges and get involved, specifically in school board races.

First, according to the Washington State Constitution, providing a uniform high-quality basic education is the “paramount duty” of state government. Second, there is a growing dissatisfaction in all corners of the state about the declining performance of our K-12 schools. Third, getting involved in local school board races would give the WAGOP an opportunity to perfect campaign tactics and strategies that the Party has been developing for some time. Fourth, supporting school board candidates was an opportunity to “reboot” the WAGOP and establish a framework for winning elections.

So, the Party selected 36 school board races that represent a strong cross-section of Washington. Some races were in large districts, others in small districts. Some were in tight groupings, others more isolated. Some in traditionally “blue” areas, others in “red” areas. The common thread: Elections that involved clear choices between common-sense conservative candidates and…other types.

Those common-sense conservative candidates in the selected school board races received some or all of the following types of support from the WAGOP:

  • Help with establishing campaign strategies
  • Fundraising advice, tools, and assistance
  • Data tools—including precinct-prioritization lists, walk lists, etc.
  • Help with developing and implementing direct mail efforts
  • Support in developing policy positions, messaging and campaign teams
  • Assistance with canvassing, phone-banking and community outreach
  • Get Out the Vote support

As of initial Election Day reporting, the 36 campaigns fall into these categories: 30 winning, 4 too close to call, 2 trailing. That is an outstanding win rate that still has room to climb.

Specifically, here are the 36 candidates running that the WAGOP supported this fall:
Amanda Miller/La Center School District
Anniece Barker/Central Valley School District
Antonio Machado Catano/Ferndale School District
Bill Hauss/Yelm Community Schools
Carmen Weishaar/Odessa School District
Chuck Whitfield/Monroe School District
Derek Iverson/Selah School District
Deborah Nesper/Oroville School District
Don Wiitala/ Longview School District
Frank Kline/Methow Valley School District
Gary Wilson/Evergreen School District
Gretchen Miles, Joseph Romero, Shannon Burch/Puyallup School District
Jim Grose/Central Kitsap School District
Joan Marie Murphy/Federal Way School District
Jory Anderson/Sunnyside School District
Kandice Merz/Wahkiakum School District
Karen Lesetmoe/Oak Harbor School District
Lindy Mullen Doyle/Sedro-Woolley School DistrictMelissa Petrini/Highline School District
Michael Cannon, Alan Nolan, Jennifer Killman/Mead School District
Michael Rocha/Sequim School District
Michelle Simmons/Meridian School District
Mike Desmond/North Kitsap School District
Patrick Peacock/Tahoma School District
Peter Finn/Riverside School District
Rich Wesen/Burlington-Edison School District
Ron R. Powers/Sultan School District
Sherri Larkin/Snohomish School District
Steve Wolcott/West Valley School District
Susie Hawes/Rochester School District
Tanya Naillon/Onalaska School District
Todd Snarr/Asotin School District

WAGOP Chairman Jim Walsh had this to say about the Party’s successful school board support project:

“This has been such a great experience. Since I first called these candidates, earlier this year, they’ve been outstanding partners in building winning campaigns. We worked together to refine our strategies and tactics. Tools for listening and talking with everyone, all around Washington. Some candidates wanted more help, others less—but everyone agreed with goal of showing voters that common-sense conservatives can win in every region of the state.

“And did we ever! Our winning percentage for these spotlighted school board races is outstanding. An ‘A’ grade, by any standard. Now, we’re going to scale up the lessons in winning that we’ve learned this fall. Into more races, in more parts of Washington.”