I knew before I went to sleep last night that two of the most important issues I campaigned for and voted for did not win in yesterday’s election. I woke up twice during the night and remembered the outcome with a slight sinking in my stomach.
But you know what? Although obviously disappointed and unsure about the future of particular issues, I did not feel angry or upset.
I felt good.
I woke up feeling energized and proud.
So many of us rallied together. We had meetings, we organized campaigns, went over strategies, and worked together as a non-partisan whole for what we believed, and still believe, was right for our children and our community. We did not win for our cause, but we won in so many other ways.
First of all, regarding the Smith vs Blethen Bellingham School Board campaign. The most recent numbers on the Whatcom County Auditor/ Election Division website shows that 17,983 votes were counted. Smith received 9,593 of those votes. Blethen received 8,390 of the votes. Only a difference of 1,203 votes gave Smith the win!
John Blethen may not have won, but he gave one heck of a race and I am so proud of him and everyone who campaigned and voted for him. A difference of 1203 votes is NOT a huge victory for Smith by any stretch. Good work, John Blethen, and thank you for standing up for what you and so many of us believe about the future of our schools!
As for the $160 million Bellingham School District Bond, there were a total of 20,115 votes. Of those votes, 12,775 people voted to approve the bond and 7,340 voted to reject it. That is a difference of 5,340 votes. The bond needed 60% of the vote to win and they ended up with 63%. Again, hardly a landslide victory!
Going up against the Bellingham School District is neither fun nor easy. We started with a small group. We grew to a larger group. Still others joined in. ALL of whom support Bellingham schools and children, and have some connection to the district but did (do) not like the direction the district is headed or the leadership under which it is headed. We wrote letters, published blog posts, distributed fliers, posted signs, went on Facebook, and talked to our friends and family.
We argued, through intelligent thought, well-researched fact, and experience from lawyers, former teachers, school families, district employees, and regular citizens, that much of what our school district has done the past year is fraudulent, from the so-called “Facilities Planning Task Force,” to the closing of Larrabee Elementary.
We did so with grace, dignity, intelligence, and respect.
We may not have won, but you know what? We did win.
Our children know that we care about them. We came together as a group of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents. School teachers, attorneys, city planners, and stay at home moms. People the age of 60 and people the age of 25. We showed our children by our actions that we care about their individual needs, our local communities, and the future of our neighborhood small schools.
And now we have the opportunity to show our children by example that we can accept defeat with grace and respect. We fought to save Larrabee Elementary, and we lost. We fought against the bond, and we lost. We fought to get Smith off the board, and we lost.
But we didn’t lose.
We came together, we tried our best and gave it our best effort, and now we continue on with strength and resolve.
It’s not the win we hoped for, but it’s still a win.
Oh—and by the way. Still one little issue. Is our school district seriously going to close one small, functioning school (Larrabee) and shove our children into portables at a school that rated lower than ours (Happy Valley), and into a construction site, for the next three years while the new school is built? Why not leave our children where they are (at Larrabee) for the next three years until the new school is built? Anyone have a logical answer for that?!
The district can well afford to keep our kids in our school a couple of more years until the new school is built, and there shouldn’t be this urgency to tear them out of their school so far ahead of time.
$160 million ought to help cover the cost, and it’s the least they can do.