By Stuart Jenner
On July 12, 2023, three candidates for the Highline School Board participated in a candidate forum at the North Hill Community Club in Des Moines. Sponsored by Sunrise Financial with support from Burien-News, the candidates answered four prepared questions they’d received ahead of time, followed by impromptu questions from the audience. The three participating candidates were Loren Dugan and Mitchell Khayim (position 1), and Melissa Petrini (position 4).
All seven candidates on the primary ballot were invited to participate. Six initially committed, but two declined once the questions and format were presented. On the morning of the forum, another had a family emergency and stated he might arrive late, then did not attend.
A video of the forum is now available. This article includes a timestamp if you want to watch just a particular question. The order of response rotates. Before the forum started, the three candidates had a drawing to see who would go first on the first question. Candidates then rotated the order on the following questions. Response time by each speaker was one minute to 90 seconds.
• FORUM TIME-FRAME in Detail:
Introduction to event and sponsorship: starts at minute zero
Introduction to candidates: starts at 10:23
Question 1: What are your budget priorities?
Begins at 19:54
Question 2: How will you address the different needs of all students?
Begins at 24:48
Question 3: What are your views on how Social Studies and Language Arts are taught in our schools?
Begins at 29:26
Question 4: What is the role of the community in supporting education?
Begins at 34:30
Audience questions begin at 39:50.
The audience questions were written on cards, then handed in to event volunteers. The volunteers consolidated the questions. (The break was 10 minutes, but edits to the video removed the gap.) Topics included:
–You and your family’s experiences in the Highline School District
–Sex ed and gender dysphoria
–What change do you want to effect if you are elected
–Social/ Emotional Learning (SEL)
The meeting recording is a total of one hour and 14 minutes.
Moderator Katie Kresly and timers kept the meeting on track. The three candidates presented a wide range of experiences, perspectives, and thoughts about education in general, the school district, the role of parents, values, and suggestions they have for achieving better outcomes for students. In this writer’s opinion, each of the three candidates made some excellent points, and each appears very well qualified for service on the school board.
There were about 45 attendees, including three local elected officials: current school board members Joe Van and Azeb Hagos and Seatac City Council member Peter Kwon.