Kennewick School Board: Political veteran, appointee to vie for position

A veteran of Kennewick school politics and a recently appointed school board member are going to meet in the Nov. 8 election, according to preliminary results from Tuesday's primary election.

Uby Creek and Brian Brooks will face off in the general election for Position 4 on the Kennewick School Board. Brian Bradford did not garner enough votes to move into the next phase of the contest.

Creek, who has run for the school board twice before, received 42 percent, or 2,862 votes in Tuesday's tally. Brooks, who on Monday was appointed to fill board Position 5 through Nov. 30, received 38 percent, or 2,578 votes. Bradford came in just short of 20 percent.

School board members are elected to four-year terms leading the district of nearly 15,000 students. By state law, school board members receive $50 per meeting they attend, but the Kennewick school board for years has voted not to claim that compensation.

Election results will be certified Aug. 31, said Stuart Holmes, Benton County election supervisor.

The primary election once again attracted few voters. About 20 percent of the mailed ballots had been returned Tuesday evening. Ballots will continue to be counted through next week, Holmes said.

But Tuesday's numbers left no doubt which two candidates will stay on the campaign trail.

Uby Creek knows something about campaigning in Kennewick -- she ran for the school board in 2007 and 2009.

"I think this (result) is pretty cool," she said. "The city of Kennewick is saying it's time -- time for some diversity."

Creek grew up in a migrant worker family and was the first in her family to graduate from high school and college.

The district has twice as high a share of Hispanic students today -- 30 percent, according to state records -- than it did 10 years ago.

Creek has experience in schools. The 49-year-old now is a parent educator for Educational Service District 123 and previously taught in Kennewick schools.

The election results showed that people trust her expertise, Creek said.

But the Kennewick School Board appeared to trust Creek's competitor more. The day before the primary election, board members chose Brian Books to fill a seat recently vacated by board member Wendy London.

Brooks was appointed Monday during a special meeting to serve on the board for the next 31/2 months. The 45-year-old physical therapist will be sworn in during today's board meeting.

But to extend his stay on the board, he will have to gain voter approval.

"We got some work to do," Brooks said. "I'll have to let people know what I'm about and who I am."

Brooks is a member of the Pasco Chamber of Commerce and the board treasurer for Columbia Physical Therapy, which has 14 offices in three states. That financial background gives him an edge in the most pressing issue the district will face, he has said.

School districts can expect further cuts in funding, which means they will have to be "prudent and wise about spending," Brooks has said.

The experience of serving on the board this fall will be "wonderful," he said. "I feel very fortunate and appreciative of the trust the board put in me," Brooks said.

Both candidates said they will increase their efforts this fall to meet with voters and listen to their concerns.