Daily News editorial

The TDN editorial board is endorsing C.J. Nickerson for the Longview School Board and urges you to vote for him.

The TDN editorial board spent time with current Longview School Board President C.J. Nickerson, as well as board candidate Joe Hobson. Both candidates are intelligent and thoughtful, but we see Nickerson as the clear choice for re-election.

Each candidate supports the $121.6 million school bond. Nickerson was deeply involved in analyzing all sorts of options for the bond and is convinced this one will improve the teaching environment, improve safety, and really “starts with students” in mind.

Hobson also supports the bond, but would like to see more focus placed on vocational education. Hobson indicated he would support another bond to pay for a vocation skill center, feeling it’s the public’s social responsibility to pay for it.

We asked the candidates if labor contract negotiations should be more open to the public. Currently, negotiations are done privately; the public has no ability to gain information until the process is essentially over. Districts in other parts of the state have started opening the negotiations for public involvement.

Hobson felt contract negotiations should remain private, meaning the public should not be allowed to know what is going on until negotiations conclude. Hobson said the public sometimes makes “emotional decisions, not fact-based,” indicating this could hamper negotiations.

Nickerson acknowledged the trend of moving toward open contract negotiations and is willing to explore the concept.

When Nickerson says he will explore an issue, we trust him. He said the same thing when we asked him to consider changing the district’s communication policy last year. With and through Nickerson’s efforts last year, the district changed the communications policy to allow each board member to speak for themselves on district issues. Only the board president can speak for the entire board.

Both Nickerson and Hobson agree the new communications policy is a good one and should remain. Recently the Longview School Board again voted to keep the new communications policy going forward.

We inquired about athletic facilities, specifically asking if deeper public private partnerships should be explored to improve facilities.

Both candidates agreed accepting and working with private entities is likely the best way forward. Nickerson was part of the team that authored the current athletic facility proposal.

One difference between the candidates is that Hobson didn’t feel right about giving recognition to whomever donated money to improve facilities. On the other hand, Nickerson didn’t see a problem with recognizing a company or individual for giving money to improve facilities given reasonable parameters.

The issue of Longview moving forward as a two-high-school or a one-high-school district has been contentious. Hobson would like to see the district keep two high schools. He talked about the community needing “time to heal,” which he related to differing views on the two high schools.

Nickerson is open to discussing the one high school option. He made a point of explaining that he has no emotional involvement to either option and would want a community advisory vote before any final decisions were considered.

Nickerson also made the point that assuming the $121.6 million bond passes in November, the school district will still have $160 million of bond capacity remaining. If the community wanted to consolidate high schools, the available bonding capacity likely would be enough to support the effort.

Joe Hobson is an intelligent candidate with a focus on providing more vocational education for students.

C.J. Nickerson, the current Longview School District Board president, has proved himself to be a thoughtful, knowledgeable and effective board member.

We think the district, its students, parents and staff will be better off if Nickerson remains on the board.

Please join us in voting for C.J. Nickerson.

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