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Re-elect Cook to Bethel board

Post by TNT Editorial Board / The News Tribune on July 31, 2011 at 8:52 pm |
August 1, 2011 9:18 am

This editorial will appear in Monday’s print edition.

Voters in the Bethel School District face something of a dilemma.

Joy Cook, a four-term school board member, is seeking re-election. She’s been an astute advocate for children and should be a shoo-in for another stint on the board.

Only problem is that Cook might not be living in the district much longer. Her husband has accepted a job elsewhere, and she says she will eventually follow him once she cleans out their house and sells it.

Voters should elect her anyway. A few more months of service – or possibly many months – from someone with such a history of leadership and community involvement would beat the alternatives. The school board could pick her successor from a much larger pool of candidates than voters presently have.

During her tenure, Cook helped get crucial school bonds passed that allowed the district and build and renovate schools to accommodate a surging student population. She also worked to land a skills center that offers options to students who aren’t college bound.

She says she wants to work on expanding the skills center, as well as science and math programs and online course offerings. She aptly notes that progress must be made on the district’s graduation rate.

Her three challengers can’t match her experience or record of achievement. None responded to our request for an interview.

One, repeat candidate Rick Payne, hasn’t even submitted a statement for the county voters’ pamphlet. Another, carpenter Rocky Carroll, doesn’t offer any ideas for how to improve schools, other than to suggest that blue-collar representation on the board would lead to better decisions.

The third challenger, David Hamwey, previously ran against Cook and lost. The computer network manager has had too little involvement with the local schools or community. He did, however, advocate against the district’s last levy, which helps provide money for basic school services.

All three men would be able to apply for the vacancy when Cook eventually leaves, at which point the school board could vet their qualifications and arrive at better assessments of their candidacies than we or voters can accomplish now given the limited information they’ve made available.

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