3 vie for seat on Richland School Board

By Ty Beaver, Tri-City HeraldMay 17, 2013 

Richland School Board Vice Chairwoman Heather Cleary will face two challengers in August's primary election.

Ron Higgins said he was running to keep local control of education. Another challenger, Jimmie Chastain, could not be reached Friday about his reasons for seeking the post.

A third candidate, Lloyd Becker, who initially filed against Cleary, switched races Friday to run against board Chairman Rick Jansons instead to avoid a crowded field.

Higgins, 65, ran for state superintendent last year, coming in second to Randy Dorn in the primary with 172,331 votes, or more than 15 percent of turnout.

Both of Higgins' children attended Richland schools. He served as a Marine and worked on the Hanford site before going into education. He now is a substitute teacher.

"I probably teach more days than contract teachers," he said.

Higgins said he has nothing against Cleary and that he'd hope, if elected, to continue some of the things she's done, but that he sees a need to become involved.

"It seems like there's some influences way above our head that want to take away our local control of education and centralize it," he said.

Becker declined to talk about his reasons for filing for the school board, saying he wasn't prepared Friday to answer questions.

He has posted a series of videos on YouTube critical of the district's decision to seek a $98 million bond to build two new schools, rebuild and renovate several others and pay for other projects.

Cleary's seat is one of just two school board races that will appear on the primary ballot. The other is in Benton City.

w Kiona-Benton City School Board Chairman Charles Gray will face challengers Ivan Howard and Daniel Johnson.

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