Second position unopposed
There are two seats on next month’s general election ballot for Methow Valley School Board director. Incumbent Gary Marchbank is being challenged by Mazama resident Michelle Randolph. Incumbent Dana Stromberger is running unopposed.
Gary Marchbank was first elected to the school board in 2009 and is running for a fourth four-year term.
Among the most important accomplishments of his tenure on the board are the many ways in which the curriculum now incorporates real-world, hands-on experiences, Marchbank said.
Marchbank hailed the numerous opportunities for high school students to explore possibilities beyond college or the workforce, including mentorships and apprenticeships while in school. Organized visits to junior colleges to learn about a variety of programs have also been valuable, he said.
“When education rubs elbows with the real world, good things happen,” Marchbank said. “I like to get kids started in as many things as possible.” He emphasized the benefits of direct experience. “We like to have kids graduate from here that can do things, rather than just talk about them.”
Marchbank didn’t name any pressing issues currently facing the school district. Successful education hinges on having good, proactive leadership at the schools, along with good community support and partnerships – all strong aspects of the valley’s schools, he said.
Marchbank has a background in education and was an elementary teacher and counselor for six years, followed by work cutting timber for 10 years. He then worked as an electrician for almost 30 years.
He was also an early proponent of outdoor education. When he first moved to the valley in the 1970s, he taught a class in mountaineering and led students on climbs of Silver Star and Robinson mountains.
Marchbank said he had benefited from having children and grandchildren in school and from participating in career days when he was an electrician. But having children currently enrolled isn’t necessary to provide sound guidance as a school board director, he said.
Michelle Randolph is challenging Marchbank for a seat on the Methow Valley School Board.
Randolph declined to speak to the Methow Valley News about her platform or priorities and said she’d wait to see the election results. She directed voters to the pamphlet published by the Okanogan County Auditor’s Office.
Although this summer Randolph said she was terminating her campaign, after a penalty from the state Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) for failure to file a financial affairs disclosure report, last week she confirmed to the Methow Valley News that she is running for the school board seat and had cleared up the issues with the PDC.
The financial disclosure report is required for all candidates in districts with more than 2,000 registered voters. The reports disclose personal financial information in case there’s a conflict of interest, PDC Deputy Director Kim Bradford said.
After the PDC fined Bradford $250 in August for failure to file the report, Randolph sent a letter to the PDC saying she was terminating her campaign and would not accept the office if elected. The deadline for formally withdrawing from a campaign is the Monday after filing week in May, so it had already passed.
But at a subsequent hearing with the PDC, Randolph paid a reduced fine of $150 and agreed to file the financial report within 30 days, which she did.
In her statement in the voters’ pamphlet, Randolph said that, as a parent in the school district, she feels underrepresented on the school board. “I’ve spent enough time researching a host of interests and also homeschooling my kids to know there are some things better left to the professionals yet that doesn’t necessarily mean carte-blanche access to any and all aspects of their lives as I still believe in the principles set forth in the Constitutions and take the Oath I swear to it most solemnly without reservation,” Randolph wrote in the pamphlet.
“Though the students are not yet to the age of majority, it is the role of each their respective parents to protect and prepare them in tandem with our many talented educators to help train them up with both strong minds and moral fibers as they face new challenges confident in their abilities to maximize their potential for success regardless of their chosen pursuits of happiness in life,” she wrote.