I have lived in Centralia for 20 years, and I like the closeness of our community. I was also a professional campaign finance consultant for many years, and I’m alarmed by something I see happening in this year’s election.
King County special interest money is flooding into our Centralia school elections – more than $70,000. The money is for a 2019 electioneering Political Action Committee called “Strong Centralia Schools Sponsored By Washington Education Association PAC.”
The only Centralia School District school-related elections in 2019 are for the three positions on the school board. The union has their selected favorites – Bev Clark, Mandi McDougal and Vickie Jackson, who each received direct contributions from the union of $2,000, $1,000 and $500 respectively.
Now it looks like the union will spend tens of thousands of dollars to impact our community’s selection of school board. And for what?
Centralia School District just had an illegal teacher strike which resulted in absurd unfunded raises which will bankrupt the district next year. Rather than properly balance the budget-busting raises, the WEA clearly wants massive property tax increases, cuts to non-teacher staff, delays of building repairs, cuts to extra programs that serve kids.
They will even make it more likely that the district will lay off young teachers and increase class sizes. But should the citizens and parents care as long as those who were at the bargaining table get their pension-enhancing 20 to 30 percent raises? Meanwhile, the district can’t pay enough to fill bus driver positions, who give safe transport to the district’s children.
So the union, based in King County, will bring money into Centralia to manipulate the election and install people who will turn a blind eye to the imbalance of giving teachers unfunded raises. And next summer, they will negotiate again opposite the board their $70,000 bought and do it all again.
Why even have a school board if one of the school district’s employee unions can simply buy the entire school board? How are parents supposed to remain confident in the schools if they are really just a salary machine for only the oldest of some of the employees? How are taxpayers supposed to vote for a levy next year when those deciding how to spend it are entirely dependent on the employees’ union for their school board election? Shall we tax people making $50,000 to give yet another raise to those making over $100,000 per year?
But that is what government unions do, and it looks like they plan to spend tens of thousands doing it here in Centralia. Don’t let them. Vote for the candidates who are independent and who will consider everyone’s interests – not just one King County union’s interests.