Richland School Board president to challenge Klippert for legislative seat

A longtime member of the Richland School Board will again challenge state state Rep. Brad Klippert this fall, claiming the Legislature is failing to meet its obligations to public education.

Rick Jansons, a Republican, recently resigned his position as executive director of Tri-County Partners Habitat for Humanity to commit himself to the campaign.

Klippert, who lives in Kennewick, defeated Jansons and two other Republicans and a Democrat in 2008 for the 8th District position, which covers much of Kennewick, Richland, West Richland and northern Benton County. Klippert has filed with the state’s Public Disclosure Commission for his re-election campaign.

Jansons said his main reason for seeking office is the same reason he’s stayed on the Richland School Board for 15 years — to make sure students receive a solid education, a commitment the Legislature has fallen flat on addressing.

Jansons said he thinks his deep understanding of education and other issues will appeal to voters.

“All I’ve seen over the last 15 years on the school board, all the Legislature thinks about is new standards and new tests,” Jansons said. “We haven’t looked at what a 21st century education should be and funded that.”

The state has implemented the Common Core State Standards for math and language arts and their associated standardized exams, as well as the new 24-credit Career & College Ready graduation requirements.

However, state Supreme Court continues to hold the state in contempt under the McCleary decision for failing to fully fund K-12 education as required by law.

Jansons said he wants to allow schools to provide more individualized instruction and more innovative approaches to teaching.

He pointed to the Tri-Tech Skills Center and Delta High School as successful examples, along with the need for more apprenticeships and freedom for more students to use online learning programs. He said all have faced resistance from the state’s current education system.

“We’re missing the passion of some of those students,” he said.

Jansons moved to the Tri-Cities in 1990 to work on the Hanford site after serving for six years on a Navy nuclear submarine.

He has since worked as a consultant on radiation safety and engineering, spent a decade owning and operating a home construction business and the last three years leading the local Habitat for Humanity. He is married and has five children, ages 10 to 29.

Beyond his tenure on the Richland School Board, he also served on the Hanford Advisory Board and the board of the Richland Public Facilities District and with other organizations.

This is the third time Jansons has sought a partisan elected office. He lost to Republican Jerome Delvin in 2012 in a bid to join the Benton County Commission. He can retain his school board position because it is a nonpartisan post.

Jansons’ campaign website is voterickjansons.com.

The official filing period for open elected positions is May 16-20. The state primary is Aug. 2 and the general election is Nov. 8.