The benefit and challenge of being the incumbent is that you have a record for people to examine, rather than just ideas or philosophies.
In the case of the Richland School Board, here are a few things that have happened in the years that Rick Jansons and Heather Cleary have been on the board: the recent passage of a bond to replace three aging elementary schools, the partnership with Kennewick and Pasco that makes Delta High a possibility, the growth of HomeLink and the firing of the past district superintendent -- to name a few developments.
Voters have a clear picture of what four more years with these candidates might look like.
Jansons v. Becker
Rick Jansons has been on the Richland School Board since 2001 and is currently president.
His opponent, Lloyd Becker, is critical of the school board in general and says it lacks leadership. However, his biggest concern is that Washington has signed on to the Common Core.
Becker says Common Core guidelines will destroy schools, dumb down our students and introduce pornography into the curriculum. He likens it to tactics used by the KGB.
Nearly all of his talking points come back to it.
Conversely, Jansons has kids in the school district. He is responsive to his constituents. He understands the challenges of the district, ranging from continued growth to innovative learning.
The Richland School District is in a building and growth pattern -- physically by replacing three aging elementary schools and an influx of new homes, particularly on the south end of the city. The district is also rolling out some innovative learning ideas and magnet schools.
Jansons has had a clear leadership role in the district and should be returned to see these projects come to fruition.
Cleary v. Higgins
We have two reasons to recommend Heather Cleary be returned to the Richland School Board: 1) We think she is the better candidate and 2) Ron Higgins should be kept in the classroom. He seems like a great substitute teacher.
Higgins has a lot of life experience. He is an ex-Marine and a former nuclear engineer. After he retired, he earned a teaching degree and has been substituting for the past three years.
Higgins is passionate about our young people and what he perceives as a gap in their education, especially when it comes to civics. He has several other concerns, including the implementation of Common Core.
But we have reservations about putting him in a policy-making role.
Some of his views seem either out of the scope of what a local school board can (and should) control or they are just extreme.
With Higgins on the board, we fear micromanaging and a personal agenda.
Cleary has a more reasoned approach.
She was appointed to the school board in 2005 and has been elected twice since then.
The achievement she is most proud of is lobbying our state Legislature (with Rick Jansons) to make it a felony when school teachers have inappropriate relationships with their students.
She also has been involved with the other district goals and projects including early release on Fridays so teachers can plan and the gifted programs for K-12.
She is interested in making sure the district has a variety of educational offerings for its students.
We can't fault Cleary on any account and recommend voters return her to the board.
The Tri-City Herald editorial board recommends Rick Jansons and Heather Cleary for the Richland School Board.