Op-ed: Playing Politics for A School Board Seat; Past Board Member Inserts Self into the Game

This op-ed letter is authored by Brad Toft, Snoqualmie resident, past President of the Snoqualmie Valley Rotary and former State Senate Candidate. The views expressed are those of the author. 

___________________________________________________________________________________________

Rudy Edwards has been a long-time public servant in our community. He acted as a director on the Snoqualmie Valley School board for many years and continued to advocate on education issues ever since his retirement.

Last week he inserted himself into this year’s school board race when, during a public meeting, he presented the board with filings regarding candidate David Spring’s divorce from 7 years ago. It’s no surprise that Mr. Spring’s ex-wife said awful things about him to gain leverage in negotiating the parenting plan. And this is what Edwards sought to highlight. But he left out the fact that the judge in the case ruled her claims were made in bad faith (false), forcing her to pay Spring’s attorney’s fees of $8,400 and maintained his joint custody of his daughter.

The board rejected Edward’s submission, directing him to meet with the Superintendent.

There are a couple of things worth pointing out. First, I won’t advance Edward’s cause in re-stating the claims made during Spring’s divorce. Second, in his attempt to smear Spring, Edwards hoped to boost the candidate he supports, Marci Busby.  Now, you might hold the quaint notion that if he wanted to support her candidacy for office, he might extol the experience and positions of Ms. Busby. But Edwards found it more expedient to simply trash her opponent. When you think about that, it seems he doesn’t hold Busby in particularly high regard, as he can’t put forward one good thing to say about her.

To Edwards, his desired end justifies the severest of means. In this essential manner, he has distanced himself from our community and the values we hold. It seems he never considered that the misleading manner in which he portrays Spring’s divorce might impact Spring’s daughter, a student in our public schools. Edwards loses credibility, when in one breath he says he cares about kids, but in the next thrusts a painful chapter in a child’s family life into a political campaign.

Edwards’s kind of antics poison our politics, alienates voters and keeps good people from running for office. As a community, we cannot capitulate to these kinds of tactics. There are enough challenges before the school board today, and a former director and elder statesman should choose to improve the environment rather than worsen it.

Marci Busby can salvage credibility by denouncing Mr. Edward’s actions and distancing herself from his tactics. As of the writing of this letter, she has chosen not to respond to emails or phone calls for comment.

Politics can be a nasty business. But it doesn’t have to be, if we as a community decide to reject candidates who sit quietly by while their activists mislead voters. We can take the oxygen out of the room for these types by demanding answers from our candidates on the policy challenges we face.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

Message from the writer, Brad Toft:

In reading the responses to my Op Ed, I thought it would be helpful to explain steps I took before submitting the letter. 

I had never met Rudy Edwards or Marci Busby before. In fairness, it was appropriate to give them the opportunity to respond to my questions and share their opinions. When contacted, Mr. Edwards immediately returned my email, and agreed to join me for a cup of coffee. During the meeting he voiced his support several times for Marci Busby, and his disdain for David Spring. I shared my opinion that he had acted carelessly by presenting partial facts, but that I would be willing to stand by him if he cleared the air, and acknowledged a mistake had been made. He said that he believed no harm had been done, and refused my support.

Mr. Edwards supports Marci Busby, and he attempted to submit out-of-context information about a candidate he opposes in a public school board meeting. Mr. Edward’s intentions are not in question—where there’s smoke, there’s fire. His intent matters, and raises the question if he has shared the information with anyone else, and whether he intends to offer a partial copy of Spring’s divorce to anyone else in the future.

I reached out to Marci Busby via email and phone (her voicemail was full, and unable to accept messages) She has not, to this date responded to my email message. Prior to my letter being submitted, she was afforded a chance to speak on Mr. Edwards actions, and has not done so. Because Edwards has attempted to create a controversy around this election to boost her candidacy, she must answer the question whether she supports these kinds of tactics. It is a question that will give us insight into her leadership style as a public servant and is certainly a question of public concern.

 

Comments

  1. I’m not surprised to hear this. I assumed that when someone finally came along to bring some sanity to this school district that there would be some money and dirt put up to stop them. If and when the district starts putting the kids first they could run on their merits. As it is, they’ve left us with two heavily overcrowded middle schools, an under capacity high school and much too large class room sizes. I hear they want to build another elementary school, why? When my daughter was at Opstad last year it had so many empty classrooms because they reduced all the grade’s classes down by a whole class. That means that instead of having four 5th grade classes, they went down to three with the resulting too large class sizes and many empty classrooms. We don’t need a ninth grade campus, we need three middle schools. We don’t need another elementary school building, we need teachers. We don’t need harmful agendas, we need to put the actual education of our kids first and foremost.

  2. What we *need* is our state to adequately fund our schools so that our district doesn’t have to cut teaching jobs to make their budgets work, thus causing these larger classroom sizes that hinder our children’s education. So much blame falls on our district HQ but I rarely hear people give equal blame to the State who have repeated cut funding to our schools year after year. (BTW – the state was sued over the issue of not adequately funding schools and is now being mandated by the courts to provide significantly more funding, though the money is slow to come.) Also, I believe, that we really do need another elementary school. The latest elementary school to open, Cascade View, did so above capacity on its very first day. Since then the number of residents in Snoqualmie has grown exponentially and elementary aged kids in Snoqualmie are now being transported to North Bend and Fall City because the two elementary schools in Snoqualmie are not large enough to handle the number of students. This is leading to larger classroom sizes in North Bend and Fall City. However I do concede that we definitely need more teachers to ensure smaller classrooms, but I don’t believe it’s fair to put all the blame on the district, who has little to no control over how much money it receives from the state for each student and thus determines the district budget.

  3. Friends,
    I agree that the State should provide more funding for our schools. However, an independent study by the Washington State Auditor in June 2012 found that the Snoqualmie Valley School District spends much more on central administration than any comparable school district. We do not need to wait for funding from the State to hire teachers. We simply need a school board willing to reduce funding for administrators down to the average so we can increase funding for teachers up to the average. So it is fair to blame administrators for spending money on administrators that should be going to hiring teachers.

    I want to thank Brad Toft for having the courage to oppose the false allegations made by Rudy Edwards against me at last week’s school board meeting. First, I want to point out that Rudy never contacted me before making these allegations against me. I have offered to meet with Rudy to discuss these allegations, but thus far he has not responded to my request to meet. Second, Rudy stated that the “Washington State Patrol should investigate me.” Had Rudy contacted me, he would have learned that I have a valid Washington State Teachers Certificate. All teachers are required to undergo an investigation in order to get this certificate. I passed this investigation because I have no criminal record – which anyone could easily verify by visiting the Washington State Patrol website.

    Third, Brad is correct that several years ago, my Ex made knowingly false allegations about me and my mother in an attempt to void our parenting plan and move our daughter to Arizona. I proved the allegations were false and the judge ruled in my favor and fined my Ex $8,400. It was wrong of Rudy to bring up allegations which have already been proven false in a court of law. I hope that someday Rudy has the decency to apologize for bringing up false allegations.

    This election should not be about who can do the most mudslinging. I am running for the school board because I want to hire more teachers, reduce class sizes, increase the graduation rate and reopen Snoqualmie Middle School. Our school district faces many problems and I hope we can return to discussing solutions to those problems rather than dredging up dirt from people’s past.
    Sincerely,
    David Spring M. Ed.
    Parent, North Bend and School Board Candidate

    • Lisa Copeland says

      Brad,
      Thanks for writing this, and David, thanks for responding,
      I will admit that I did not vote for David in the primary, but I am now a fan and endorse him completley. Brad is right, in that this type of mud-slinging keeps good and decent people from running for office.

      I am actually somewhat shocked that tactics like this would be used in a Snoqualmie Valley Board of Education election … OUR valley … OUR school board. This type of behavior in no way represents the values of OUR community. This type of behavior would never be tolerated by OUR children in OUR schools. School board candidates (and their close supporters) should be setting the standards of how to behave, not how NOT to behave.
      Good luck David,
      Lisa Copeland

  4. I was not available most of the weekend due to family commitments. Here is a brief response. http://www.busbyforkids.com/toft-response.html

  5. I was present at the school board meeting when this incident occurred. I was both dismayed by Mr Rudy Edwards’ attempted mud-slinging against Mr Spring, and frankly a bit embarrassed for Mr Edwards, as it was clear to everyone that his attack was of someone else’s personal matter and having absolutely nothing to do with any school district business (which is what the Public Comment period of school board meetings is for). It is disappointing still that Rudy still has not acknowledged that his actions were inappropriate, potentially damaging to a young child in our school district, and publicly apologized. I hope he does.

    Our public should not be surprised that past school board directors who are responsible for promoting the need for a 3rd middle school and then closing it not long after it was built, failing to set business & budget priorities that have heavily contributed to the growth in class sizes, and neglected to support & fund improvements that our kids need to feel safe in our schools, would now be continuing to defend their past decisions. It’s no secret that they have banded with a very small group of their supporters to preserve their other board director friends positions, including Marci Busby, but one would think that they would have surely advised Rudy against such inappropriate action, unless of course they wish to see this election campaign degenerate into distasteful mud-slinging for some unknown reasons. Attempts to distract voters away from the real issues toward personal issues is not productive, but sadly we have all seen instances in past elections where some think they get a lot of voter mileage out of mud-slinging.

    Let’s all hope we have seen the end of this behavior on the part of not only Rudy Edwards, but any other of his friends who may be entertaining similar notions of attacking David Spring or other district reformers, children, parents, or teachers with such tactics.

Speak Your Mind

*

%d bloggers like this: