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Super says he doesn’t have it out for candidate

Post by Kim Bradford on Oct. 15, 2009 at 2:07 pm with 6 Comments »
October 16, 2009 4:29 pm

Tom Seigel, superintendent at Bethel School District, gave me a call this morning to correct what he thinks are some misperceptions that he is meddling in a school board race. Seigel was responding to a post I did earlier this week about school board candidate Marianne Lincoln’s difficulties with the Pierce County auditor’s office.

Seigel says he became involved in the mess because Lincoln asked him for a map of her director district. He drove out to the address listed on her candidate filing to deliver the information. No one was home at the time, so he left the information. Later, Lincoln’s sister, who lives at that address, called Seigel’s office to report that Lincoln had moved out.

“At that point, I called (Auditor) Jan Shabro and told her, ‘We have a situation here, a potential fraud.” Lincoln ended up withdrawing and then refiled with a different address, which Seigel said is a vacant lot. He again contacted Shabro to let her know what he found. (Lincoln has since switched her registration again to a place she is leasing in the district).

Seigel took exception to my description of his “curious interest” in this case. “I have a legal responsibility and an ethical obligation to report when a crime or fraud is being committed,” he said, mentioning the mandatory reporting requirements the district has in cases of suspected child abuse.

What Seigel didn’t know was that the rules for political candidates are much looser than the residency requirements for students who attend Bethel schools. Lincoln, according to information I received from the Secretary of State’s office, was well within her rights to file for office with the address she listed.

Seigel says he is surprised by the latitude allowed candidates. “I guess I could run for mayor of Seattle and all I would have to do is register at a vacant lot up there.”

As for the changes to school board policies that amended “qualified voter” to “qualified voter resident,” Seigel said they had nothing to do with the Lincoln case but were prompted by a request from school board member Ken Blair to adopt suggested language from the Washington State School Directors Association. I checked with WSSDA, and it indeed has model language that includes “qualified voter resident.”

Seigel says he did ask the district’s attorney what the district should do in the event Lincoln is elected, and the attorney indicated the district would seat her. He said he has no axe to grind. “Whoever shows up on the board, I deal with them. There are no nefarious intentions here.”

Seigel has some experience dealing with rock-the-boat types. Blair is currently suing the school board for stripping him of his board vice presidency in 2007 after Blair criticized the superintendent in an interview with The News Tribune. Blair’s appeal is being heard before Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals judges in Seattle today.

Leave a comment Comments → 6
  1. If I had registered to vote on a vacant lot in a place I had never lived, I would oppose my candidacy too! That’s called carpetbagging. But in this case, I have lived at that address since 1967, the director district 20 years and Bethel for 36. My family moved to that “vacant lot” which has the airplane hangar in 1967 and lived there, in the hangar and a trailer, while we built our house. The well for the house is on that lot, the parcel was only split so my parents could afford the mortgage on the house. I also lived there, on that not-so-vacant lot in 2002, when I lost my house due to unemployment and family medical expenses. A good friend loaned me their motor home until I could secure an apartment. It was 20 degrees outside and unpleasant, but a person does what they have to do. I take strong exception to being called a carpetbagger in my own home town because I’ve had some hard times from family medical issues. Just because the county calls it vacant, doesn’t mean it actually is. In fact, I was actually there, on that vacant lot, when Mr. Siegel stopped by with the map, but I was in the back of the 2 acres and he could not have seen me from the front of the house.
    I have helped organize community events, raised money for a community office, evening summer programs, a tree lighting and brought the $275,000 anchor for the skate park through a grant proposal that took many, many personal hours to compose and present.
    I think the Bethel board could use a director who has experienced some of the pitfalls of life to add some reality to what going on in the lives of district residents. I have been willing to take this on in spite of the bumps I have had to go through. If the voters want to elect a rich person who is financially secure and doesn’t mind paying lots of taxes, that’s their choice. But I think they rather have someone who knows why at some point government officials need to look at themselves in the mirror and think twice about what they are doing.
    I have the skills, knowledge and community track record to be a great board member. Let’s give it the chance it deserves.

  2. S_Emerson says:

    “Whoever shows up on the board, I deal with them. There are no nefarious intentions here.”

    Deal with them? How about work with them instead, and have an open mind to the fact they actually may be good for the district?

    Marianne, despite the hard times she’s been faced with (right along side so many people and/or parents of the Bethel District), is willing and eager to serve on the board. That’s more than can be said about most people, even those of means and money.

    Shame on you, Sielgel and Shabro, for your negative assumptions and for the joy you seem to garner from tryng to discredit a long-time community advocate. Your own words speak volumes as to the type of people you are.

  3. YardGnome81 says:

    Marianne will be elected and continue the serve the communty as she has her whole life. Marianne was in between places trying to get a grasp on a tough situation.

    “I guess I could run for mayor of Seattle and all I would have to do is register at a vacant lot up there.”

    What a Jack@$$

  4. S_Emerson says:

    For anyone interested, there was some lively discussion on this issue on yesterday’s Inside Opinion,

  5. Marlin49 says:

    It is unfortunate the Auditor, Jan Shabro, did not have the experience to give Mr. Siegel the correct guidance at the onset.

  6. RonMorehouse says:

    Once again we see the lying tommy Seigel try and worm out of responsibility of his actions. Why was he out in a political campaign during school time? Since he has a failing school district he must have some thing more important to do. If he can spend time playing politics and trying to hurt people then maybe he should not be a superintendent. This is my personal opinion as he owns the old members of the board.

    Ron Morehouse

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