Editor's note: These two letters were written by Tri-Cities community members about some of the candidates running for office and school board locally.
Our local elections are coming up soon, and there are a lot of promises and information flying around, but here are some facts that I feel all voters should be aware of. Several candidates for office are a part of an extremist group called Moms for Liberty, a group that advocates for banning books and getting rid of school curriculum that involves LGBTQ+ rights, race and ethnicity, critical race theory, and discrimination. The following candidates and current seat holders are confirmed members of Moms for Liberty Benton County:
Pasco City Council Pete Serrano (joined May 2022) and his spouse PJ Serrano (joined Dec. 2021)
Pasco City Council, spouse of David Milne, Nicki Milne (joined January 2022)
Richland City Council, spouse of Ryan Whitten, Natalie Whitten (joined September 2022)
Kennewick City Council Gretl Crawford (joined December 2021)
Kennewick School Board Gabe Galbraith (joined September 2021) and spouse Stephanie Galbraith (joined September 2021)
Richland City Council Johanna Jones (joined September 2021)
Benton Franklin County Judge Dave Petersen spouse Dena Orsag Petersen (joined September 2021)
Running for Office:
Richland School Board
Nino Kapitula (joined in August 2023)
Eugene Nemeth (joined in September 2022) and spouse Jenelle Nemeth (joined September 2021)
Kennewick School Board
Dustin Peterson (joined December 2021)
Pasco City Council
Leo Perales (joined September 2021)
In addition to this information, I believe its important to point out that Steve Simmons, who is running for Pasco School Board, was convicted of domestic violence in 2004 and again in 2014, as seen in this news article: tricitiesobserver.com/2021/10/27/pasco-school-board-candidate-has-a-history-of-domestic-violence
“Methinks thou doth protest too much!” is what comes to mind when I hear how few school board candidates were willing to take the time to send in their information for our “Tri-Cities Votes” segment. Tumbleweird takes a great deal of time, volunteered by local citizens, to try to have every candidate in each category for the General Election share why they feel they are the best candidate for each position.
As a parent and former teacher, I have kept a sharp eye on everything that has been going on lately with our local school districts. Many candidates seem to preach the importance of open communication and clarity on what the issues are. Yet, when push comes to shove, they can’t seem to find the time to truly communicate openly with their constituents.
School board elections are becoming more partisan (when they should be, and are on paper, non-partisan positions) and coded language is being used for specific issues. As a voter, a parent, and a former teacher, I’m keeping that in mind when I see who has taken the time to truly reach out to our community.