Longview schools
Longview Public Schools

A three-way race has shaped up for the Longview School board seat that J.D. Rossetti is giving up.

Rossetti announced last week that he will not seek re-election, citing his desire to “dedicate and focus more time in prayer and communion with the Lord our God.”

In his wake, three Longview citizens have thrown their names in the ring to try and take his place.

As filing week closed Friday, Phil Jurmu, Norma McKittrick and James Norton had filed to run for Rossetti’s seat. This means there will be a primary election to reduce the field two two candidates.

School board President C.J. Nickerson, whose seat is also up for re-election, was unopposed until Friday afternoon, when Joe Hobson filed to challenge him.

Jurmu has been Longview Fire chief since 2013. Prior to leading the agency, Jurmu served as battalion chief for 10 years and worked as a paid firefighter there for 10 years before that.

All three candidates for Rossetti’s position support the $121 million bond the district is asking votes to approve in November. It would replace three elementary schools, pay for security upgrades and address the district’s special education preschool. It would be the biggest bond in school district history.

Jurmu said he’s been thinking about running for school board for a while. He’s served on both of the district’s facilities advisory committees, which have provided recommendations to the school board about what facilities projects should be the district’s top priority.

Jurmu cited his experience with the fire department as reason for why he would make a good board director.

“I have had a lot of experience at all ranks within the fire department up to the point of where I’m at today, leading the organization,” Jurmu told The Daily News. “Through that experience I know it takes a great deal of collaboration. It’s not my way or the highway.”

McKittrick has been a credit union professional since 2001 and currently works for Fibre Federal as a manager with the member solutions department. McKittrick’s daughter graduates from Mark Morris High School this year and will attend Western Washington University in the fall.

“As an empty-nester, I’m going to have time to give back to the community and support her and help her be successful,” McKittrick said. Though she’s never run for elected office, McKittrick says she wants to help the district any way she can as its navigates the bond election process for replacing many of its elementary schools.

“I have the time and perspective as a parent and taxpayer, member of the community and I want to make our school district successful,” McKittirck said.

The third candidate, James Norton, is a graduate of Mark Morris High School. Though the school board agreed earlier this year to push off a decision of whether or not to merge the district’s two high schools, Norton said Thursday that he’s still firmly against the idea of the merger.

Norton also ran for the same position four years ago, but earned only 12 percent of the vote.

“I’m going to be running as a candidate to inspire people to stay involved and stay in touch with the community,” Norton said.

Both Norton and McKittrick acknowledged that they haven’t been to many board meetings recently, though they’ve both been keeping tabs and researching the facilities process in other ways.

McKittrick said she’s been reading through the school board’s meeting minutes to get up to speed.

Norton said he plans on attending more board meetings in the next few months and he hopes to talk with board members about their biggest concerns about the upcoming bond.

“I hope to have a positive influence,” Norton continued. “Even if I’m not elected, politics is not about having the office. It’s making sure that people are being held accountable.”

Contact Daily News reporter Madelyn Reese at 360-577-2523

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