Pasco School Board: Phillips, Leggett, Lancon

October 10, 2013 

Three Pasco School Board seats are up for re-election this year, and each of the incumbents are facing challengers -- which is a little unusual for that school district.

It's not unusual for school board members to run unopposed in Pasco. For example, this is the first time Bill Leggett has had an opponent in the 17 years he has served on the board.

We're not sure if the interest in running for office reflects a dissatisfaction with the current board's performance or some other reason.

Either way, we're glad to see the challengers.

For one thing, it gives voters some choices. And, perhaps even more valuable, it gives board members a chance to re-evaluate their tenures as they make another bid for their seats.

Toombs v. Phillips

The race that is the most difficult for us to decide is newcomer Amy Phillips' challenge to Darrell Toombs.

Toombs, a store manager for Yokes, was appointed to the board in April. This is his first election.

Amy Phillips, wife and mother with a math education degree, is far and away the most prepared challenger this board has ever seen -- for any race. Ever.

She has attended school board meetings and workshops and state training for school board candidates. She has interviewed school board members, superintendents, teachers and principals.

She has pored over -- and interpreted -- Pasco performance data.

If we could pick a dream team for the Pasco School Board, both of these candidates would get game time.

When Ruben Peralta announced his resignation from the board last month, we hoped that whoever doesn't win this race would be appointed as his replacement. Although it looks like the timing on that won't work out.

Toombs has not been on the board that long. He is a strong business leader with a proven track record. We would like to see his future contributions. But, Phillips combines the enthusiasm of a newcomer with an expertise earned through her determined approach to learning all she can about the job.

Phillips should definitely be on the Pasco School Board.

Since we have to choose one of these candidates, we choose Phillips.

Leggett v. Christensen

Bill Leggett is a long-time school board member. He also has been in the educational trenches as a teacher and principal. He has served this community well and carries much of the board's institutional knowledge.

We recommend returning him to office. Our support is a little tepid, however.

Leggett admits he was reluctant to run this term. His main motivation for doing so is because of the newness of the rest of the board. The next most senior member is Sherry Lancon, who is also up for re-election, with six years of service.

If it weren't for that one point, we doubt Leggett would have run again. He would have happily retired, and we would have thanked him for his service.

His opponent, Steve Christensen, is an engineer. He's able to understand and solve complex problems. He has attended many board meetings since filing for office. He admits there is a learning curve with any new position, but is confident in his abilities to quickly come up to speed. We share his confidence.

He's not a bad choice for this race, but we aren't ready to let Leggett's wealth of knowledge go.

Lancon v. Ruiz

Of these three races, this was the only one that had a primary. Incumbent Sherry Lancon finished with 68 percent of the votes. That deficit will be nearly impossible to overcome for challenger Javier Ruiz, who received just 23 percent of the votes.

Lancon, who serves as the board's president, has been in leadership through the most recent bond election, the debate about year-round schools and the ever-growing overcrowding issues for the Pasco district.

The overcrowding will continue to be a problem. The community is looking for leaders who can and will take charge of this situation. Lancon is our choice for the next four years.

The Tri-City Herald recommends Phillips, Leggett and Lancon for the Pasco School Board.

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