SKSD Board: Ineligible Candidate Gets Nearly 20 Percent of Vote

Former Board Member Giving SKSD Incumbent a Run for Her Money

Third candidate who was disqualified earned nearly 20 percent of the vote.
By Chris Henry
Incumbent Naomi Polen was lagging behind challenger Chris Lemke in what amounted to a straw poll on the race for South Kitsap School District Board of Directors, district 3.
Polen earned 31.36 percent of the vote to Lemke’s 44.92 percent in Tuesday’s primary election. Both, being the two top vote getters, move on to the November election.
A third candidate, Gail F. Porter, was deemed ineligible to serve, since she moved out of district after filing for office. Even so, she earned 19.65 percent of the total 5,385 votes cast.
Write ins totaled 219 votes or 4.07 percent of the total.
Porter notified the Kitsap County Auditor’s office of the move on June 18, after the June 11 deadline to withdraw. Ballots were already being processed, so Porter’s name appeared among the contenders.
Although the result the the primary was a given, Lemke, a former SKSD board member, was guardedly optimistic at the margin by which he was ahead. He chalked it up to “local grassroots networking.”
“I’m thankful for the numbers,” he said. “It’’ll be a worthy opponent and a great election in November. I’m looking forward to it.”
Polen was appointed to the board last spring when then-District 3 representative Chuck Mayhew moved. Lemke, who served on the board from 2001 through 2005, was among those who had asked to be considered for appointment to Mayhew’s position.
Polen, who has so far run a fairly low-key campaign, said she anticipates working harder to publicize herself between now and the November election.
“I guess I will start putting signs out, which I didn’t want to do,” she said. “I felt I was getting out there, but obviously the numbers say I’m not.
Lemke, who did not give his age, is a retired Department of Defense manager who has held numerous volunteer positions in South Kitsap, most related to education. His four daughters attended South Kitsap schools.
Polen, 45, who helps run her husband’s construction business, also has served in multiple district and community volunteer positions. Her four children have attended South Kitsap schools.
South Kitsap School District may formally contest the estimated $70,000 it will owe for the cost of the primary.
“We have sought legal council to see if there’s any way to mitigate the cost, but we’re not interested in having a fight with the county,” said district spokeswoman Aimee Warthen.
Kitsap County elections manager Dolores Gilmore in July said much of the cost of the election is incurred through printing and distributing ballots. The law does not make provisions for districts in cases like this, she said.
Any action taken by the district will depend on advice from its attorneys, which is pending, Warthen said.

17 thoughts on “SKSD Board: Ineligible Candidate Gets Nearly 20 Percent of Vote

  1. I believe that this just goes to show that many people vote who don’t read the news. Do they really believe that it is just their duty to vote and not also their duty to research what they are voting on or who they are voting for?

  2. Regarding dissolving the traditional school board and changing the form of school governance to a chancellor.

    I rest my case.

    Signed, Adrian Fenty

  3. “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.” — Winston Churchill, in a House of Commons speech on Nov. 11, 1947.

    Voters in other places and times have elected candidates who had died before election day. It should be no surprise that 1 out of 5 in SKSD cast votes without knowing who’s who. We can only hope that the majority will have some rational basis for voting the way they do in any election.

    It is a shame that we won’t get to see whether there is any way other than a court ruling to remove a name from the ballot at this point. I could only find that way — a court ruling to disqualify someone, no matter how obvious the ineligibility.

    She may have been “deemed ineligible to serve,” but not by anyone who had the authority to do anything about it other than go to court.

    Did she later “move out of district”? That hasn’t been reported before this article appeared. She moved within the school district to another location which was in another “director district.”

    She would not have been eligible to take office, if elected in November, unless she moved back into the director district for which she filed as a candidate–provided someone went to court to contest her election and get a court ruling, and assuming she didn’t withdraw and refuse to serve under the circumstances.

    Say, maybe 1 out of 5 voters were trying to persuade Porter to move back into the director district and go ahead and serve on the board!

    She wanted to withdraw when she learned of her ineligibility, but the county elections director said “no.” Were the ballots already ordered by June 18? That’s the question, and I notice this article says the ballots “were already being processed.” Has the county elections director clammed up on you, or didn’t you know that the date the ballots were o-r-d-e-r-e-d was the last date when a candidate could be allowed to withdraw?

  4. I am not a South Kitsap Voter, but quality leadership in education for Kitsap County is very important to me. With increasing budget shortfalls becoming more apparent in the coming years, districts will need to partner up and combine resources whenever possible to stretch every dollar spent on education. Naomi Polen has the background and record of thoughful decision making needed in a good education partner.

    Please support and vote for Naomi Polen in the General Election.

  5. No. I am not for District Consolidation. What I am for is a recent partnership that the Bremerton School District pursued with Central Kitsap when it came to purchasing a new math curriculum program for both Districts from a common vendor. With combined purchasing, a less expensive bulk discount was possible saving money for everyone.

    Also as a member of the Citizen Levy Committee for the Bremerton School District we are already establishing partnerships with neighboring district levy committees to pool resources and efforts in getting the word out and educating the public on what a replacement levy is and what it is used for.

    These are just a couple of recent examples. Little relationships here and there that make a really big difference in the long run. Having the right leadership in place to work with, in these partnerships, makes the process easier and more successful.

  6. Obviously a good thing, but it sounds a bit like district consolidation without eliminating redundant administrative positions.

    I’m glad to hear you’re watching the finances. I think the school district purchasing department and its SOP benefit from an exacting oversight committee.

  7. My husband just spent two days going back and forth between various schools in the CK District on enrollment issues. It took no less than a half dozen calls, several voice messages, and conflicting information before he could determine testing dates/availability and class openings for our daughter. He was told each school does it differently, then was later sent back to the same director of another school after going from Emerald Heights to Brownsville. He was then told testing was available for new residents but not existing ones (due to funding and resource shortfalls). Only after all of this was he told there was no space and we’d be waitlisted. When he asked if the test was district wide (or even county wide) so a potential student could take these results to schools with available space, he was told no.

    Not really directly on point regarding the SK vote, but certainly germane regarding the need for consolidation of efforts and better partnering of efforts.

  8. Bob – A clarification: Yes I meant that Porter moved out of her director district 3, not SKSD altogether. Sorry about the lack of clarity.

    Also, the term, “being processed,” could be deemed a little vague. You are correct that the deadline pertains to when the ballots are ordered. The deadline was June 11. What I meant was, on June 18, the ballots were somewhere in the process of being designed, printed shipped. Since I didn’t know where in the process, I left it vague on purpose.

    Chris Henry, SK reporter

  9. Chris, there are actually two deadlines for withdrawal when a primary election is in the offing.

    First is the deadline that the county elections director freely points to. The Thursday following the week for filing as a candidate is the last day a candidate can withdraw for any reason or no reason at all. It’s completely in the hands of the candidate to act on a whim, if she wants to, and withdraw. No one can deny the candidate’s request to withdraw by that deadline. This year, that was June 11.

    Second is the deadline for allowing a withdrawal at the candidate’s request. The “filing officer” (the county auditor) may allow a withdrawal provided the ballots have not yet been ordered.

    So, on what date were the ballots ordered? Not drafted, not proofread, or whatever else is involved in the process.

    The county elections director hasn’t volunteered that information, yet it would resolve some of the controversy if the ballots were ordered before June 18. (There would still be the puzzle about the elections director’s inaction between June 8 and the date the ballots were ordered. She was told of the facts needed to realize that Porter would be ineligible in a few days, once she moved to her new residence.)

    The two deadlines aren’t hard to find. They are in the same section of the RCW, only a couple of sentences apart:

    RCW 29A.24.131
    Withdrawal of candidacy.

    A candidate may withdraw his or her declaration of candidacy at any time before the close of business on the Thursday following the last day for candidates to file under RCW 29A.24.050 by filing, with the officer with whom the declaration of candidacy was filed, a signed request that his or her name not be printed on the ballot. There shall be…. The filing officer may…. The filing officer may permit the withdrawal of a filing for any elected office of a city, town, or special district at the request of the candidate at any time before a primary if the primary ballots for that city, town, or special district have not been ordered.

  10. Maybe Delores Gilmore was on vacation from June 8th, the date the situation was revealed, until June 18th? Or maybe she was brushing up in the law library. She should have called Mr. Meadows.

  11. Ouch RV! That is a sad state of affairs when it comes to enrollment management for Central Kitsap or any district for that matter. Every year I hear examples of this from new and incoming parents to the Bremerton School District that just light me on fire. And people wonder why I come down so hard on these guys when they mess up. What was the quote from the other day about fools? Yep that pretty much sums it up.

    I know you are not one to let this level of ineptitude slide. Please keep us posted so that we can all learn a very valuable lesson from all of this.

    Central Kitsap School District Administration, if I were you, I would implement some improved procedures regarding enrollment and placement testing immediately….like yesterday.

  12. Off-topic perhaps, but that is one of the first things Michelle Rhee and/or Adrian Fenty did. Made central office employees at-will employees.

  13. Karen,

    Delores Gilmore was not on vacation June 8th. I spoke with her on June 8th on this very issue. After I explained that Ms. Porter said she was moving in a couple of weeks, I asked if a candidate that moved out of the director district that they filed in could still be eligible to be seated if they were not a resident of that director district on election day. Ms. Gilmore said that residency was determined by the filing date and that Ms. Porter could continue to run for election, even if she moved out of the director district. But, Ms. Gilmore said, that if such a candidate prevailed, then they could only serve for two years.

    I asked Ms. Gilmore if she was sure of this because it seemed incongruent that a person could be ineligible on election day for a seat and yet still be elected to it and seated. It was not until July that a different interpretation of the law came from the County.

    Had I been given the correct information on June 8th, I would have taken action to challenge Ms. Porter’s candidate eligibility on June 12th (the day after voluntary withdrawals were concluded) to ensure that a needless expense of $70,000 was not incurred by the school district for a primary election. Instead, I took no action because Ms. Gilmore told me that even if the candidate moved, so long as they remained in the school district, they could prevail and be seated in the election. In fact, on July 2nd, I even blogged about it at…

    “…She seems like a very nice person. However, she has only lived in South Kitsap for about a year and while she lived in Director District #3 at the time of filing, she told me that she was moving to a new home that is in another director district within the month. I asked the Kitsap County Auditor’s office about this and they confirmed that she can still run for election, but she would only be able to serve for two years of the four year term since she has moved out of the Director District…”

    I should point out that my wording in that blog could be read to infer that Ms. Porter knew she was moving into another director district. It wasn’t my intent to infer that. I don’t think Ms. Porter realized, at the time she filed, that her move was going to create any problem. It sounds like she was informed of a problem on June 18th. But what problem was she informed about? What was she told that day?

    Did the County Auditor’s office tell her, on June 18th, that she was ineligible? Or did they give her the same information they gave me on June 8th? The reason I ask is that Ms. Porter appeared before the Kitsap Sun Editorial Board, participating as a candidate, with Polen and Lemke, on July 2nd. If the County Auditor’s office told her that she was ineligible on June 18th, then why would she participate in the Editorial Board interview as a candidate on July 2nd? That seems odd unless she was given the same information, on June 18th, that I received on June 8th.

    The County Auditor’s office should be responsible and accountable for the information they provide, as the subject matter experts in elections. If this cost was incurred because no action was taken, based on the information that the County Auditor provided, then I think the County Auditor’s office should take responsibility for the cost of that mistake. Not SKSD or any other jurisdiction.

    Kathryn Simpson

  14. I know you are not one to let this level of ineptitude slide. Please keep us posted so that we can all learn a very valuable lesson from all of this.

    Indeed. Don’t be surprised if you and/or Kathryn get a call from me on this.

  15. RV, Contact me anytime. You can also email me at my Bremerton Community 4 Kids email, which has been published numerous times so I have no problem posting it here.

    In fact anyone with Education comments, questions and concearns are welcome to email me at this address anytime.

    Colleen Smidt

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