Naming a temporary replacement to Diane Dick’s vacant Kelso School Board seat has the remaining board members “in a wrenching situation,” said school board president Patty Wood.
Because Dick’s seat is up for election this fall, Wood said, the board is concerned that appointing someone this summer could be viewed as an attempt to sway the election.
On the other hand, the board legally is obligated to fill the vacancy, she said.
“By law we have to appoint someone in 90 days,” Wood said in a telephone interview last week. Keeping the seat empty until the fall isn’t an option, she said, because the board would “be knowingly not doing one of our duties,” she said.
Two candidates — Amanda Pink and Calvin Miller — have filed for election to Dick’s position, which she vacated May 27. If the board appointed anyone besides Pink or Miller this summer, that person could not run for the office this fall because the filing period for elective office was held the first week of June.
Board member Mike Haas this week said he wants the board to appoint someone not running for the post to avoid the appearance the board is endorsing Miller or Pink.
Ideally, Haas would like to appoint someone with past school board service to fill the seat temporarily, he said. Board member Roy Parsons agreed, saying “if they (applicants) don’t’ know diddley squat, they can’t hit the floor running” and make informed decisions.
“So all they’re doing is filling a seat,” Parsons said.
An appointment could be made, at the earliest, at the board’s July 20 meeting — though school officials said it could take longer. Applications for the position are being accepted at the school district office until noon July 2.
Only one person so far has applied for the position: Ruth Clark, a retired Kelso resident and former long-time Kelso School Board member.
Miller, one of the candidates for Dick’s seat this fall, said he’s planning to apply for the interim seat. Though it puts the board in a difficult position, he said the board should appoint the most qualified applicant.
“You don’t want to just put a figurehead in there,” Miller said.
“They’ve got to pick who they think will make the best decisions,” he added. “We just have to hope the voters will do their homework (this fall). We want to see someone who will make solid, responsible decisions.”
Miller, 40, said this is his first time running for public office. He’s attended Kelso schools and owns Pacific Tech Construction and Cold Stone Creamery in Longview.
His opponent, Amanda Pink, discouraged the board from appointing herself or Miller. If the board selected either of them it would be an “inherent endorsement,” she said.
“Any appointment the school board makes takes someone and makes them into an incumbent,” giving them an unfair advance, Pink said.
Pink, 24, attended Kelso schools. She works for the Emergency Support Shelter in Kelso as the children’s program coordinator and community educator. Pink also hopes a qualified community member will step forward to fill the seat until the fall election.
“I believe, because the term is only a few months, I think it would be absolutely appropriate for informed and active community members to say, ‘I will be apart of this for a few months’ and say, ‘I will aide the decision making process.’”