Gateway: Opinion

Letters to the Editor, June 24

Zach Smith is strong leader, forward thinker

On Thursday morning (June 18), I was privileged to witness the debate for the Peninsula School Board, Position #4 with candidates Leslie Harbaugh, Garth Jackson and Zach Smith. All three candidates have distinguished records of civic service.

Leslie supports Common Core and has served the community for the past 13 years. She is a stay-at-home mom and the self-described cheerleader. She is passionate about the position and puts her heart and soul into the effort.

Garth is an engineer by trade and a current teacher. He has a wealth of knowledge about teaching, curriculum, and the students and provides empathetic insights to the challenges facing our district. He believes Common Core has removed control of teaching from the classroom and hinders the teaching process because our children are not a one size fit all.

Zach brings new energy and life into the equation. He is articulate and has crossed over to the opponents of the levy and knows their concerns because he’s spoken with them. He is well acquainted with the challenges and has specific solutions to years of frustration of failed levies and bonds.

I want a change that is forward thinking with strong leadership who can reach across and talk with concerned citizens who see a different pathway to a great community. Zach gives us the highest probability this will happen. He came across as the strongest leader in the field, and for this reason I endorse Zach Smith for Position #4.

Richard Himmer

Gig Harbor

Slamming other candidates a poor campaign strategy

I was surprised when I recently attended a school board candidate forum. I expected to hear different candidates share why they believe they are the best person for the position, and how they would bring positive mindsets to benefit students of PSD.

Instead, I was left questioning the true intentions of some of the candidates and feeling even more confident in my choice of Leslie Harbaugh for school board.

I am impressed with Leslie Harbaugh’s depth of knowledge regarding PSD.

Harbaugh spends hundreds of hours attending school meetings and willingly shares that information with the community. School board members should have experience volunteering in the schools in which they serve. Harbaugh has years of experience volunteering in this manner and has developed critical relationships throughout the community. Although admirable, the opponents’ volunteer experience with Scouts and donations to the Philippines leave me unsure how these attributes qualify one for an elected school position.

I was also surprised one candidate’s closing statement focused on his opinion that Harbaugh is a “cheerleader” and not right for the job. He specifically asked for the attention of the “Harbaugh supporters” in the room while proceeding to make irrelevant comments about Mrs. Harbaugh’s character and associations. Why would a candidate take their precious closing statement time to slam another candidate?

To me, this reflects poorly on the character and intentions of the candidate. I wish the opponent shared why his qualifications make him a better choice. An opportunity lost.

Ilene Wider

Gig Harbor

Harbaugh’s a liability to future levies

Leslie Harbaugh touts her involvement on past levies as an asset, but it is in fact a huge liability. As co-chair of the Yes Campaign, she antagonized many in the community, alienating key demographics that ultimately voted down both funding initiatives.

Those voters haven’t forgotten the bad feelings engendered by Harbaugh during the 2014 campaign. This animosity could easily spill over into the 2016 maintenance and operations ballot measure if Harbaugh were on the school board. As the M&O level makes up over 20 percent of the district’s overall budget, it goes without saying that this would be disastrous.

If the M&O levy does not pass, draconian cuts will be necessary. Harbaugh’s former co-chair on the Yes Campaign, former board president Harlan Gallinger, even said as much in a June 11 statement to the school board. Teachers will lose jobs, critical programs will be eliminated and students will suffer.

Our kids’ future is too important to trust to someone whose leadership has proven ineffective in the past. The community should find a better option than Leslie Harbaugh for Peninsula School Board.

Andrew Coster

Gig Harbor