Shoreline council and Shoreline School board candidates meet for the first time

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

The first candidate forum of the political season brought out 100 people to the Shoreline Room at the Shoreline Center, to hear candidates for School Board and Shoreline City Council.

Around 20 left at break, after the school board candidates spoke. Presumably they were Lake Forest Park residents, whose forum will be held on Tuesday, October 15, 2019 at Third Place Commons.

Moderator Karen Madsen and Timekeeper Sue Renhard from the League of Women Voters ran the forum briskly and all candidates took the time constraints with good humor. The planning was done by NUHSA and the Shoreline PTA Council.

Shoreline School Board Candidates:

District 1: Michael Jacobs vs Meghan Jernigan
District 4: Rebeca Rivera (unopposed)
District 6: Sara Betnel vs Joe Cunningham

Michael Jacobs is the only incumbent in the group, pointing out that no matter what, the majority of the new school board will have less than two years experience on the board. There are big changes ahead, which need to be managed well - including moving all the 6th graders and kindergartners.

New candidates all talked about how much they wanted to to involve families with the school board and how they wanted to have joint meetings with partners such as the two city councils.

There really wasn't much difference among them. They are all bright, well-educated, and very liberal.

They all agreed that the biggest challenge facing the district is equity - that students of color achieve at the same levels as white students. Most want gun controls and favor restrictions. Mike Jacobs agreed that guns are a problem but said it is multifaceted and requires responses such as teaching kids way to resolve conflicts, working with first responders, securing the school sites.

School finances: The legislature makes changes every year but doesn't necessarily fund them. Joe Cunningham talked about his experience working at the county and state level as an advocate. Everyone talked about working to goals and being wise with money.

Climate change: Meghan wants a district-wide composting program. Rebeca wants climate and sustainability in the curriculum. Sara said to put in solar panels.

Individual protections for LGBTQ students: all candidates talked about inclusiveness and valuing all students.

Mental health issues: all agreed that resources at the high schools are inadequate. The board has already called for a proposal from outside agencies to staff the high schools. Mike talked about the social emotional learning curriculum which is coming.

Highly Capable program (Hi-Cap) - all agreed that the program was not equitable - the kids are all white. Changes have been made to identify children of color, educate the families about the program, test kids during school hours instead of the weekend,

Art Education - all agreed it is important. Only two schools have a full-time art teacher.

Sara Betnel and Meghan Jerrigan expressed concern about Edwin Pratt opening six months late.

Meghan Jernigan said that she is an enrolled member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. Rebeca Rivera said that she is a Latinex and was happy to bring diversity to the board.

Shoreline City Council candidates:

Pos. 2: Vivian Collica vs Keith Scully
Pos. 4: David Chen vs Doris McConnell
Pos. 6: Betsy Robertson vs Luis Berbesi

Introductory statements:

  • Luis Berbesi is an immigrant who wants to help people be able to afford to live in Shoreline.
  • Betsy Robertson served on the Parks board, was appointed to Shoreline council and is the only candidate who lives east of I-5.
  • David Chen is a Shorecrest graduate, the son of Chinese immigrants, and lives in the Echo Lake neighborhood.
  • Doris McConnell has been on the City council since 2008 and feels her experience on the council and in the community is a benefit to Shoreline.
  • Vivian Collica has lived in Shoreline for 15 years and want to use her knowledge as a construction consultant to benefit the community.
  • Keith Scully is in his first term on the council. While doorbelling for his first election everyone told him that sidewalks were most important - so council set up funding for new and old sidewalks. Now people are telling him the main issue is homelessness.
What are the two biggest issues facing the city and how would you resolve them?
  • Vivian - homelessness - city policies are in conflict with solutions. We need a local solution, not regional.
  • Keith - people who need assistance to get through the day. Solution is to partner with agencies as we did with the 198th building and Catholic Services.
  • Betsy is a park advocate but her issues are homelessness and opioid use. She would partner with specialists and non profits to keep people in their homes.
  • Luis would protect parks and parklands. He wants to work here instead of commuting and wants a better transportation system.
  • Doris -human services and housing affordability
  • David -income inequality and continuum of care - needs a coordinated regional response. Climate change.
Changing city - how to manage change and keep things affordable
  • Luis - incentivize home ownership over renting
  • Betsy - include affordable housing
  • Vivian - developers are getting incentives and not putting in business.
  • Keith - we mandate affordable housing at a low rate - can't force owners to do all we want.
  • David - examine the development code
  • Doris - affordable housing isn't really affordable.
Where do you stand on Prop 1?
  • Vivian - not a good investment
  • Keith - support it. The school district offered property but the cost was the same as buying property and building.
  • David - served on the financial committee. It needs to have dedicated space for the Senior Center. Need a community space and room for the Arts Council
  • Doris - Seniors need a place they can be guaranteed. The community asked for parks. It's up to the voters.
  • Luis - absolutely opposed. It's a burden on homeowners. Use the money to train teachers.
  • Betsy - it's the start of a city center. We can't put off taking care of parks.
In response to other questions, everyone voiced their support for LGBTQ people, deplored guns, and affirmed a woman's right to make her own medical decisions.

A question about "modernizing zoning laws" and one about a rumor that the School District would sell the Shoreline Center just puzzled everyone.

The next candidate forum is Thursday, 6pm at Prince of Peace church, sponsored by the Briarcrest and Ridgecrest neighborhoods and the Shoreline Area News.

--Diane Hettrick

10-2-19 Added Keith Scully's opening remarks


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