ESD Board general election just around the corner

Part 1 in this two part series looks at the race between two high-profile residents: Tyson Gamblin and Vivian Cadematori

Editor’s note: This is Part 1 in a two-part series about the Enumclaw School District Board races. Part 2 will focus on the race between Scott Mason, Jimmy Stewart, Tonya Pettit and Ben Stouffer.

King County general election ballots have been mailed out, and Enumclaw and Black Diamond voters will soon decide who will be on the Enumclaw School District Board of Directors.

In case you haven’t plugged into the election yet, locals will be choosing between incumbent Tyson Gamblin and his opponent Vivian Cadematori for District 3; Jimmy Stewart and Scott Mason for District 1; and Tonya Pettit and Ben Stouffer for District 4 on Nov. 7.

The Courier-Herald is focusing on Gamblin and Cadematori to start.


The Gamblins have been an Enumclaw staple since 1969 when Art Gamblin uprooted his family from Idaho.

Tyson Gamblin followed in his family’s footsteps, having worked at Gamblin Motors since he graduated college in 2007 and becoming co-owners of the dealership with his brother in 2020. In that time, he also coached EHS football, helped run the football foundationo, was on the Enumclaw Chamber of Commerce Board.

He and his four siblings went through ESD, and his three children are also enrolled.

His opponent, Vivian Cadematori has lived on the Plateau since 2002, touting years of business success and money management, noting that she was the youngest Marketing Director for Continental Airlines and managed a $50 million budget before moving to Washington and managing Alaska Airline’s ad agency.

She then decided to take a pay cut to open a preschool/childcare center. Eventually, with her husband Steve, the two bought the Alta Crystal Resort in 1997 and ran it for 20 years.

Cadematori has dominated the race thus far by putting up signs, attending meet-ups, and — maybe most importantly — controlling the conversations around this election with her three-point platform, while Gamblin has run a quieter campaign.

While the two are clearly passionate about the Enumclaw School District and the education of local students, they are also diametrically opposed on several key issues that have shaped this race.

A focus on education

The issue that Cadematori and Gamblin might disagree on the most is whether or not the district is successfully educating its kids.

According to Cadematori, ESD is “failing” its students, pointing out that in 2022 only 42.5% of ESD students met math standards, 48.2% met science standards, and 54.3% met english language arts (ELA) standards.

“Improving test scores will involve a concerted effort on the part of the Board, the administration and teachers,” she said. “It involves setting specific goals for ESD; identifying students who are behind; providing robust in-classroom supports; reviewing ESD curriculum versus that used in more successful districts; and establishing accountability metrics for results.”

Cadematori added that she wants to look at other curriculum being used at schools where more students are meeting subject standards to see if it would aid the district.

However, Gamblin holds that ESD students are receiving a good education, and that test scores are just a snapshot of a child’s time in school — and not a particularly accurate one, either.

“As a School Director, I do not want teachers teaching to a test,” he said, adding that he would prefer the district focus on creating “authentic, irresistible, deep learning experiences”. “[Test scores] are one minute in time… it is a standard that some people live by, but that’s not a standard I personally believe is indicative of success and growth for kids.”

At this time, the Board does not have a specific goal for how many students should be meeting various subject standards.

Parent’s Rights

Another part of Cadematori’s platform is parent’s rights, which boils down to two points.

The first is related to how the district needs to refocus on education and step away from

“Students are graduating without the basic skills they need to succeed in life. I want to put the focus back on education and leave the teaching of morals and values to parents,” she said. “Many parents have expressed frustration that ESD spends little time challenging students with academics. Families have different values, and if you believe in parents’ rights as I do, parents should be able to determine what morals and values they teach their kids.”

Cadematori did not define what “morals and values” meant to her, or which she believes ESD might have impeded on.

Gablin, however, said that parents already have many rights when it comes to controlling what sort of education their children receive, which includes requesting curriculum for review, meeting with teachers, and even pulling students from classes like sex-ed.

“I don’t know what rights have been stripped away,” he said. “Teachers want involved parents… and involved parents traditionally bring higher success with kids. But on the flip side of things… there’s a lot of kids in our school system, a lot higher than people want to admit, that are not involved.”

Parental involvement is the second half of Cadematori’s parent’s rights platform — specifically with the Board.

“Parents deserve full transparency and must be acknowledged and treated as the primary stakeholders in their children’s education,” she said, adding that the Board can be more transparent by passing a resolution acknowledging parents are primary stakeholders in their children’s education; create a parent advisory group; make video recordings of meetings more accessible; and hold meetings that allow for two-way conversations between the public and Board members (Board members are not allowed to respond to public comment during official meetings).

Gamblin believes that the Board already puts parents’ interests first and holds that the Board has been very transparent with the public via meetings and surveys. However, it’s more often that parents don’t take advantage of these opportunities to learn more about what’s going on at the district, he said.

For example, the Board had a community night for input on new math curriculum last spring.

“Our attendance for that… night was one person,” he said. “Last year, we had [a] Teen Wellness Night. We brought in speakers and it was joined with Buckley… and our attendance could have been better.”

A responsible budget (and bond)

Cadematori has criticized the Board for focusing on wants instead of needs — specifically, putting a $253 million bond measure to voters last February for two new elementary schools, a new performing arts center, a new sports stadium, and various other repairs and upgrades.

“The fact that 75% of the community voted against the Bond is a major black eye for the current Board, and shows that they are out of touch with you, their constituents,” her campaign website reads. “The replacement $103 million bond on the November 2023 [ballot] is being rushed to voters. The community survey did not include price tags for various options. No conceptual plans or engineering drawings have been developed. $90 million for one school is a huge amount of money, and voters deserve to know the construction budget is based on specifics.”

On her Facebook campaign page, Cadematori noted that a 85,000 square-foot Renton elementary school constructed in August cost $51 million.

Gamblin agrees that $90 million for one elementary is a lot of money, but said the cost constructing new schools have skyrocketed in recent years; even in just the several months between the February and November elections, the cost estimate for a new Enumclaw-area elementary school jumped by $4 million.

“As we don’t build these facilities, they’re not getting cheaper,” he said.

For the upcoming bond, ESD has been working with the Wenaha Group, which helps do bond research and construction estimate costs; the group has helped manage more than 70 school renovations and new school projects since 2010.

Despite her criticism, Cadematori does support a bond for a new Enumclaw and Black Diamond elementary, but she wants the Board to re-examine enrollment projections and empty seats to see if a bond is really immediately necessary, or can be pushed out.

Cadematori also has questions about how the school is spending its normal operating budget funds.

“We need to be responsible stewards of taxpayers’ money, while balancing that with student needs as more money is not always the answer,” she said, noting that she is specifically curious as to why the Central Administration budget increased by $2.1 million since the 2020/2021 school year and wonders if that has contributed to more student success.

Gamblin said the Board runs a “sound” budget, and that managing the school’s budget is far different than managing one for a business.

“We’ve gone through multiple state audits over the years,” he said. “We just had one recently; we passed with flying colors.”