This editorial will appear in Thursday’s print edition.
Compared to all the drama in the Tacoma and Puyallup school districts lately, things have been quiet in Pierce County’s third- and fourth-largest districts, Bethel and Clover Park.
Even so, voters in the two suburban districts should not overlook important school board races Nov. 8 that involve challenges to three solid incumbents.
• In Bethel, District 4 incumbent Joy A. Cook is seeking her fifth term. There’s a chance that, if elected, the Graham resident would not be able to finish her term because she could be moving out of the district. If that happened, the board would appoint a replacement until voters could fill the position.
We’re OK with that. The district would benefit from whatever time Cook can give it. She’s been a positive force on the board, working to pass crucial school bonds and to build the skills center for students who aren’t college bound.
Her opponent, Graham resident David Hamwey, did not respond to our request for an interview. In his News Tribune online voters guide statement, he makes vague allusions to the need for more “motivation” but shows no real knowledge about the challenges facing the district. Voters would be wise to stick with the experienced, involved Cook.
• In District 5, incumbent Brenda Rogers of Graham is seeking her third term. The retired construction manager and preschool director has a long history of involvement with Bethel schools, from PTA to site council chair. She’s knowledgeable about the district’s challenges and passionate about addressing them.
Her opponent, Elizabeth Satiacum, has had little involvement with Bethel schools. She did not attend a scheduled interview with the editorial board, nor did she fill out The News Tribune’s online voters guide.
Rogers is the clear choice in this race.
• Clover Park: The incumbent, retired Marine Corps aviator Paul Wagemann, is seeking his first full term. His opponent is Janet Caldwell, an elementary schoolteacher and union negotiator in the Bethel district.
Caldwell says she has no real concerns about the direction the Clover Park School Board has taken; she just wants to be involved in the district where her children attend school. But there are other ways short of running for the school board to do that, and she has had scant civic or district involvement.
Wagemann, on the other hand, has been deeply involved in the Lakewood community, including service on the city’s Transportation Advisory Committee and the Lakewood YMCA board. He’s grown in the school board position and is tightly focused on improving the district. He deserves re-election.