MATTAWA — Two students were instrumental in getting a school board candidates forum, which took place on Wednesday, Oct. 23. Wahluke School Board student representatives Karen Arellano-Cruz and Emma Anderson asked for the forum to be held to give students and community members the opportunity to get to know the candidates for school board. Four of the five school board positions are up for election. All races are contested.
“This hasn’t really happened before,” Anderson said. “There are candidates running against each other.”
“I feel like our community needed a place to gather to ask questions,” Arellano-Cruz said. “We can have them answered without drama and rumors, in a more professional place.”
The two students asked Wahluke High School ASB advisor Joel Dugan, who also teaches government and leadership, for the forum.
Seven of the eight candidates running were present at the forum. One candidate was unable to attend.
Four of the candidates are currently on the Wahluke School board. One of them, Jesus (Jesse) Chiprez, was recently appointed to the board by the Yakima Educational Service District. The other current board members are Maybeline Pantaleon, Seth Weeks and Craig Sabin. Weeks and Sabin’s seats are being contested by Antonio (Tony) Acosta and Samantha Ruiz-Thomas.
Until recently, Pantaleon and Chiprez were running unopposed. In the past few weeks, Hans Groenke and Trevor Waters have stated that they were running as write-in candidates. Sabin was the only candidate not present at the forum.
Each candidate present was given five minutes to speak and introduce themselves. After that, audience members were able to ask questions of the candidates.
The student board representatives thought the forum would be a good opportunity to allow the community to ask questions of the candidates and get to know them.
“I have questions,” Arellano-Cruz said. “We wanted to get to know them and have them introduce themselves to us.”
“It was about the audience,” Anderson said. “It was a good opportunity to be heard and express their opinions.”
Rachal Pinkerton may be reached via email at email@example.com.