The area’s only election races requiring a primary are two seats on the Stanwood-Camano School Board.
In both cases, a pair of challengers are seeking to unseat an incumbent for a four-year term.
Ballots were mailed to voters last week. The two candidates with the most votes in the Aug. 3 primary will advance to the Nov. 2 general election.
In the contest for the District 1 seat, incumbent Al Schreiber is being challenged by Gary Forslund and Kevin Williams.
Schreiber, who is retired after 36 years in law enforcement, is seeking his third term and said he’s running on his experience — both as a long-time board member and as a public safety professional.
After the retirement of the superintendent and assistant superintendent, new Superintendent Deborah Rumbaugh “will need the support of an experienced board, the one that hired her,” he wrote in response to a candidate questionnaire from the Stanwood Camano News. “Experience in providing a safe learning environment is critical today. … I also have experience advocating/supporting marginalized groups and those most vulnerable, including special education.”
He said recovering from COVID-19 and maintaining local control over schools is a priority.
"I will continue to fight for what is best for our kids," he wrote.
Forslund, 67, is the lead pastor at New View Church in Stanwood. He also worked for six years as a custodian at Cedarhome Elementary School as a custodian, where he spent 18 months as president of the Public School Employees union for the Stanwood-Camano School District.
"Together with our new superintendent, Dr. Deborah Rumbaugh, we can guide our students through an education process that will promote independent thinking, creative problem solving and productive living,” the Warm Beach resident wrote.
Forslund said he believes students benefit most when families and educators partner together in the learning process.
“Our students deserve the best opportunity to succeed in life,” said Forslund, who has not held public office before. “A quality education will give them a good start to achieve their highest potential. I want to be a part of that process.”
Williams, 51, a customer service manager at a local construction company and first-time candidate, said he wants to add “a layer of transparency to clear up the questions people have on so many different topics” about the district “by being available for questions, concerns and really making sure everyone understands what is being done in our schools.”
Williams recently moved back to Stanwood and said he is “ready to give back to my community.”
He envisions his style as collaborative and not to “push my own agenda into a school system that is meant to serve us all. I will be the best team player and listener you will have on the board.”
In the race for District 2, representing south and east parts of Camano, Samantha Smith and Tracy Abuhl are challenging Charlotte Murry, who was elected in 2019.
Murry, 47, the executive administrator for the Snohomish and Island County Labor Council, said she is seeking re-election to continue helping our students in regards to social-emotional support, developing avenues for student voices to be heard, and helping to find innovative ways to fund and support new educational programs.
Murry also serves as the board’s state Legislative representative, working with local state representatives to advocate for funding and resources.
“We have some financial challenges coming these next few years as state funding has changed,” Murry wrote. “Fortunately, we have been preparing for these challenges, but it will be important to carefully monitor the changes and forecasts to make sure we navigate to the other side successfully.”
Smith, 31, works for the Washington Department of Social and Health Services and is seeking the post because she “felt as though I wasn’t represented by the current school district board.”
Smith said addressing school reopening during pandemic, inclusion and diversity are key goals.
“I think maintaining strong ties with the community via social media will create a platform where parents feel like they are more involved with the school district board,” she wrote. ”I believe I represent the group of parents who might be younger or have younger children. I think I can play a role in really bridging a gap between the school board and the community.”
Abuhl did not respond to a candidate questionnaire from the Stanwood Camano News. In information submitted for the county voter pamphlet, Abuhl stated: "Classroom teachers and parents must create school policies and practices appropriate to the students, not politicians." Abuhl is a precinct captain for the Island County Republican Party.
Ballots returned by mail do not require a stamp but must be postmarked no later than Aug. 3. Camano voters can also use a drop box at the Island County Administration Building, and Stanwood voters can use a drop box by the Stanwood Library.
Voters can register online or by mail until July 26 or in-person at the county elections office during business hours and until 8 p.m. on election day.