Nation & World

KENNEWICK SCHOOL BOARD, DIRECTOR 1: Diverse group of candidates vie for Kennewick School Board

An attorney, a special education teacher and a scientist are facing off in next month's primary election for spot on the Kennewick School Board.

The candidates' key concerns include everything from tight school finances to dropout rates and the challenge of ensuring students get a well-rounded education while meeting core standards.

They each promised that if elected they'll take into the account the opinions of community members as they're making decisions.

The candidates are vying for the seat currently held by longtime board member Dan Mildon, who announced earlier this year that he didn't plan to seek re-election. The position is a four-year term.

Ballots will be mailed this week. The primary election is Aug. 18. The top two vote getters will advance to the Nov. 3 general election.

Heather Kintzley

Age: 31

Family: Married, no children.

Occupation: Attorney with the city of Kennewick.

Why she's running: Kintzley has deep roots in the Tri-Cities, with a large extended family in the area including aunt Dawn Adams, who's president of the Kennewick School Board. Kintzley said she wants to give back to the community by serving on the board.

As a municipal attorney, she often encounters young people who've committed crimes. Many of them have dropped out of school, she said.

She wants to be part of the solution and work from within to improve the education system. She said she will come to the board with an open mind and a rational approach to problem-solving.

"I think it's so important to listen to both sides and consider all of the evidence in totality and make a decision that serves the greater good," she said.

Bill Rutz

Age: 53

Family: Married with three children.

Occupation: Special education teacher for the Finley School District.

Why he's running: Rutz said he'll work to ensure the district is fiscally conservative, which will help see it through lean times due in large part to sweeping cuts to education funding statewide. The state Legislature slashed money for K-12 education and other programs to help cover a forecast $9 billion deficit for 2009-11.

Rutz also said now is a critical time in education in Washington because the new state assessment system will be rolled out starting in the spring.

His experience as a teacher will give him a unique perspective on the board, he said. But he'll do his best to represent all his constituents -- not just fellow educators.

"I'm not there just for the teachers. I'm there for the teachers, the students and the taxpayers of Kennewick," he said.

Jason Armstrong

Age: 39

Family: Married with four children.

Occupation: Senior health physicist for the Department of Energy.

Why he's running: Armstrong was inspired to become more involved in local education after helping with the citizens' campaign this spring to pass the district's $68 million construction bond. The bond will cover building a new elementary school and remodeling several others.

He said he wants to see math and science education bolstered, but without sacrificing the arts. The key is balance, he said.

Two of Armstrong's children attend school in the district, and he said he'll bring the perspective of a parent to the board. He'll advocate for all district patrons on everything from budget to standardized assessments, he said.

"I'll be transparent. I'll communicate their ideas, concerns, passions about the education system," he said. "I really value education and I want programs in place to help their kids be successful."