Gateway: Opinion

Spotlight will be on Gibbs during PSD board tenure

Jerry Gibbs of Gig Harbor addresses a small crowd outside the County-City Building in Tacoma, March 10, 2015. Gibbs is now an interim Peninsula School District board member.
Jerry Gibbs of Gig Harbor addresses a small crowd outside the County-City Building in Tacoma, March 10, 2015. Gibbs is now an interim Peninsula School District board member. Staff photographer

It’s safe to say interim Peninsula School District board member Jerry Gibbs is a polarizing figure around town.

I’ve talked to several people who dislike him. There are others who admire his activism. But you can’t say that he doesn’t find a way to get involved his community — or even in matters that pertain to all of Pierce County.

During a tour last year of the Capitol in Olympia with some local business leaders, I got to talking to Gibbs about his various activism projects. Even after being the central figure last year at Citizens for Responsible Spending in a campaign to oppose the district’s levy proposal to voters, Gibbs was very forthcoming about his relationship with PSD Superintendent Chuck Cuzzetto. He told me how they talked often and exchanged ideas.

This was kind of a surprise to me. Not that I expected it to be a super hero vs. villain-type relationship, but I certainly didn’t think it was very cordial.

But that relationship seems timely in that Gibbs will now serve on the board until November, or about six meetings — the first of which is Thursday.

I’m anxious — I think many others in the community are as well — to see how Gibbs does in his tenure. You can’t say he’s not educated on the issues, or that he doesn’t have a way of speaking to voters and parents of students.

He told Gateway reporter Karen Miller late last month that he hopes to “put his fingerprint on the levy” — a crucial maintenance and operations levy he’ll be part of during his tenure.

Although it is a stretch to say Gibbs has switched allegiances, it is refreshing to see someone join the board on an interim basis who has the energy, passion and ability to provide an outsider’s look at the issues facing the district. Board president Matt Wilkinson also praised Gibbs’ candor in his initial interview, calling it a “good thing.”

I’m a fan of sports metaphors because, yes, I’m a sports fan and I think they relate well. When teams are stuck in a string of losing seasons (Mariners fans can relate), sometimes bringing in the right player can turn things around. It usually doesn’t translate directly or immediately in the NFL or MLB, but it happens often in the NBA.

Can Gibbs be the one who is able to come in and provide some insight to get the maintenance and operations levy passed?

While that is not the levy that will get a new school built, it’s certainly a step in the right direction.

Yes, his first experience in an official capacity is on an interim basis, but can Gibbs show the board some strategies it may not have considered in the past? We will see.

It certainly can’t hurt the board to have that kind of outside-the-box thinking at its disposal.

No word yet on whether or not Gibbs will throw his hat in the ring in four years when voters elect new members. This time may not be the last time you see Jerry Gibbs.

(No villain exit-line pun intended.)

Tyler Hemstreet: 253-358-4150

tyler.hemstreet@gateline.com

@gateway_tyler

  Comments