Monday, June 7, the public is invited to attend a special meet the candidates event at John Dam Plaza in Richland, from 6-8PM.

It's presented in part by the Student Community Coalition for Tri-Cities. It's a new group consisting of a mix of students and parents who are pushing for more student-oriented emphasis in our local educational systems. Also, more citizen and student input when it comes to decisions made affecting families and their children in education.

The group is also an outgrowth of the massive student-led marches we saw last fall, protesting distance learning and other controversial decisions made by area school boards.

This public event Monday June 7 will be attended by the following candidates who are running for office.

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In Kennewick, Gabe Galbreath and Micah Valentine will be there;  For Richland, M. Semi Bird, Ben Griggs and Audra Byrd; and for Pasco, candidates Steve Simmons, Amy Phillips, and Steve Christensen.

These are the candidates who have committed to attend this event so far.

There's been a lot more emphasis on the open school board positions following the tumultuous COVID 2020-2021 school year. Kennewick will be very interesting as Board President and 20-year vet Dawn Adams will not seek another term. She and others cast the deciding votes last October to keep students in distance learning; despite being given a green light from the BFHD to begin hybrid.

This led to a recall effort against her and two others on the board, but it faded over the winter for logistical reasons.

At least 1,100 students have withdrawn from the 3 Tri-City area districts since last March in favor of home-schooling or private schools. Most of those who chose to do so say it was COVID-related policies and decisions made by the school districts and boards that led to their leaving.

Public sentiment towards the educational system still appears to be very raw.  A recent example of this is the Ki-Be Replacement Levy at the end of April, it barely passed with a yes margin of 51.56 percent. 50% is required to pass, and voter turnout was very low, only 33 percent.

We can expect a very rough and tumble school board election season for the seats that are open in 2021, it begins with this meet the candidates public session Monday June 7.


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