Letter to the Editor: Vote Gamblin, Mason this election

Former ESD Board Director Nancy Merrill urges you to consider stability this election.

I served 28 years on the Enumclaw School Board, so it’s no surprise a number of people have asked me about the upcoming election and urged me to share my thoughts.

Re-elect Tyson Gamblin: He is the only board member with several years school board experience, a very valuable asset. He was president during the pandemic, navigating the very difficult divergent opinions of both the very vocal and the quiet, many not coming to meetings. Whatever you wish to believe looking back with hindsight, a couple of things are important to remember – we lost not one child, not one staff member during that time when no one really understood what the stakes were, and we helped protect the stability of our local healthcare system. Safety took priority over classroom seat time. That said, let’s recall that ESD was the first district back in school before any of our neighboring districts, in fact first in all the King County region. The School Board and district listened and made every adjustment possible, demonstrating good leadership. The Center for Public Education’s landmark 2019 study of the Eight Characteristics of Effective School Boards stated the “Stability of leadership” plays a role, and that “characteristics of high achieving districts were long tenures by superintendents and school board members and regular retreats by senior staff and board members for evaluation and goal setting purposes.” We need Tyson to continue serving to help lead what is a relatively ‘young’ board with a still relatively new superintendent.

Scott Mason: Scott lives in Ravensdale and his multiple foster and adopted children attended Black Diamond Elementary and now secondary schools in Enumclaw. He is a long-time district supporter and has high praise for Black Diamond elementary leadership who helped with a child’s challenges, as well as the rest of the district staff who have supported the needs of their other children. He brings significant professional experience to the board as well (see your Voters Pamphlet). He has been hard at work already talking with stakeholders, working to hear from people how he can best serve. Black Diamond is an important partner in our district and deserves solid representation on the board. Scott can be that leadership and voice.

Tonya Pettit or Ben Stouffer? Losing the one Black Diamond representative in the primary was heartbreaking. Tonya has been a strong supporter of Westwood. Ben lives in Black Diamond but homeschools. What’s his motivation? Does he really understand BD parents and community? I feel very strongly we need the Black Diamond connection and voice on the board, so my leaning is toward Mr. Stouffer, but I’m still waiting to hear answers to some questions I’ve emailed each about.

My husband Jim and I are voting Tyson Gamblin and Scott Mason. In the remaining race we are still doing due diligence to learn more about them, as should you. Email candidates your questions, then vote your conscience.

Nancy Merrill