The four candidates sat shoulder-to-shoulder waiting for the South Kitsap School District Board of Directors to pick one to replace former member Chuck Mayhew, who resigned from the board in February.
The board interviewed each of the candidates earlier in the meeting, and after an executive session to debate the candidates’ qualifications — Board President Patty Henderson called it “a spirited discussion” — each member listed their top two choices publicly.
Kathryn Simpson, Keith Garton and Jay Rosapepe were of one mind, selecting Olympic College Early Childhood Education Director Gayle Dilling and long-time community volunteer and home-builder Naomi Polen as their top choices. Henderson selected Dilling and former board member Chris Lemke.
The fourth candidate was Sonic Solutions Project Manager Dennis Summers.
Simpson explained frankly her discomfort with bringing Lemke aboard.
“As much as I appreciate Chris’ service on the board, I have some serious reservations,” Simpson said. “Service on the board not withstanding, we have places on the board we have told the public we want to go. I am afraid Chris doesn’t share that vision.”
The board would ultimately select Polen with a motion from Garton and a second from Simp-son. The board voted individually, with immediate “ayes” from the motion makers and Rosapepe.
Henderson paused to think for a moment on the motion which did not include any of her top candidates, ultimately declaring, “I think aye.”
The voting members said the decision was extremely difficult.
Garton explained, “Just going by community involvement and things like that, it would have been a four-way tie.”
Rosapepe stressed the need for the other three candidates to continue their involvement with the district.
“I’m hoping that all four of you will still be involved with the school regardless of this,” he said, going on to explain that in the last election Rosapepe, Henderson and Garton ran unopposed, and this evening four candidates were vying for the open seat. “It’s really, really cool to have people interested in this.”
Polen and her husband build houses independently.
They have four kids in the school district, and she is a member of a number of athletic boards and the Citizens Budget Review Committee.
She stressed the importance of open collaboration when working with these groups.
“One thing being on other boards, you really have to be a listener in order to be a responder,” Polen said.
The board asked each candidate if they would run for re-election — all were at least open to the idea.
“If this goes good, I would run at the time,” Polen said. “I think things have to mesh. If I fit in with the board, then I would definitely run in ’09.”
During her closing statement, Polen indicated that all four candidates were excellent choices.
“I know you guys will make the right choice,” Polen said. “If I am chosen, I will do my best to fill the shoes of the past person in this position.”
Mayhew left the board in February to pursue a change in career. He was elected in 2005 and Polen will finish out his term through 2009.
Lemke held the same seat before Mayhew, but decided not to run for the position after seeing others take an interest in the seat.
Polen will join the board for several major issues in the coming months.
The board is preparing for its next levy and Superintendent Bev Cheney has already announced her resignation for the end of the 2008-09 school year.
Polen said she would also like to see the board pursue the technology funds it failed to get after voters rejected a bond in 2007.
For more information on the school board, visit www.skitsap.wednet.edu.