Common Sense with Dominick Bonny – Wenatchee School Board Position 5 Candidate Interviews, Part I

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Join host Dominick Bonny for part one of a two-part series on the Wenatchee School Board position 5 race. He interviews each of the three candidates and asks them about their experience, qualifications, goals and national divisive issues like Critical Race Theory that are being used to manufacture outrage and energize voters in school board races across the country.

Common Sense with Dominick Bonny – Wenatchee School Board Position 5 Candidate Interviews, Part I Transcript & Sources

PART ONE

Hello and welcome to Common Sense, I’m Dominick Bonny and today we’re going to be taking a look at one specific Wenatchee School Board race ahead of the deadline to vote in the primaries on August third. I am going to cover as many school board and city council races in the Wenatchee Valley as possible before November, but I chose this race before the primary because of the three candidates involved. The race I’m talking about is the Wenatchee School Board position five race, and the three candidates running for that seat are incumbent Julie Norton, who was appointed in January 2020 and is fighting to retain her position against two challengers, Miranda Skalisky and Arlette Lopez-Rodriguez, who is 18 and a recent graduate of Wenatchee School School. I met up with all three candidates this week and interviewed them each about why they want to run, what they see as some of the biggest challenges facing our district and if wedge issues being drummed up by national media personalities and conservative political operatives, issues like Critical Race Theory, have a place in our local school board elections? Especially since CRT isn’t a part of our district’s curriculum and there are no plans to teach it in Wenatchee Schools or any Washington state schools for that matter. I’m planning on devoting this and the next episode to those interviews, but before we jump in I’d like to address a complaint from my last episode covering our school board elections. In that episode I laid the groundwork by establishing what critical race theory is, where it came from and how it’s being used as a part of an astroturf strategy to win school board seats for conservative candidates across the country. Now, from time to time, folks accuse me of quote “not presenting both sides,” as if I am Walter Cronkite or another old timey newsman beholden to some nebulous standard of both-sideism that never really existed in the first place and is now used as a cudgel to criticize anyone in the media with whom you disagree. It’s disingenuous at best because these complaints usually come from folks who have no problem with people in the rightwing propaganda business failing to as they say, “present both sides.” I have never heard complaints from folks on the right about Tucker Carlson’s failure to appropriately cover both sides of the issues he features on his nightly program on Fox News. Secondly, how should I cover “both sides” of an issue that doesn’t exist? If I interview folks about their reactions to curriculum that is not taught in our schools, where does it end? Do I have to get peoples’ reactions to every made-up, manufactured issue someone pulled out of their ear? If that’s the case, the way things are going, by the next election I’ll be interviewing people about their opinions about implementing topics taught at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Excuse me sir or ma’am, what is your opinion on Wenatchee schools teaching defense against the dark arts, or herbology, or potions? The idea of asking people about their opinions about curriculum that is not currently taught in our schools is silly. If the status quo changes and CRT is implemented in K through 12 studies in our schools I will be the first to let you know and the first in line to get parents’ reactions to it, but until then I think we’ve got plenty of important topics to cover here in the real world. So on with the show. Here’s the format: I asked each of the three candidates basically the same questions, although some of my follow up questions and the following conversations were spontaneous. I’ve edited it so that you get to hear each candidate’s answer to each question before we move on to the next, and anything that I am forced to cut for time will be included in the unabridged interviews that you can find links to in the show notes at the bottom of this episode’s transcript on ncwlife dot com. For the sake of simplicity and in order to avoid any presumption of bias, although I doubt it will do any good, we’ll go through the candidates chronologically from the first interview I collected this week to the last. So we’ll start with Arlette Lopez-Rodriguez and end with incumbent Julie Norton, with Miranda Skalisky in between. Here we go!

Interview Sequence 1

Alright, well that was a lot of important information if you want to be an informed voter. And if you don’t want to be an informed voter you probably wouldn’t have stayed with me this far. So let’s take a break and we’ll be back with more.

PART TWO

One of my favorite quotes of all time, which was spoken by local legend Earl Tilly on this very program, goes like this: “You can disagree without being disagreeable.” And it’s in the spirit of that quote that I went about producing this episode. These are three candidates with pretty different ideas about how we should run our school district. And that’s a good thing! Like I told Arlette, I believe that having a young person and recent Wenatchee High grad in the race broadens the discussion and forces candidates to consider the perspectives of young people. Even if she doesn’t make it past the primary she has succeeded, in no small way, by making people listen to her perspective. And that’s what makes this race one of the most interesting, in my opinion. See, after Trump won in 2016 there was a lot of liberal national rhetoric urging folks to run for anything, for everything! If you were upset about Trump winning the presidency, run for something! Women, especially women of color, were encouraged to run for congress, state legislatures, city councils and schools boards. Now there’s a young woman of color running for something and she’s not getting much support from those same liberals who urged people to just run for something. But now the shoe is on the other foot when it comes to national politics animating local elections. Trump lost in 2020 now it’s the right that is energized, angry and ready to organize and focus on more attainable goals than staging failed coups in our nation’s capital – and that’s where you and me and our school board comes into play. If you can’t win a national election, go for the school board using divisive trigger words like race and sex. Even some local church leaders are feeling the need to weigh in on subjects like Critical Race Theory, instructing their flock from the pulpit, or whatever the hipster-megachurch equivalent of a pulpit is, about the issue – even though it’s not a part of any curriculum being taught in Wenatchee schools. It makes you wonder why some local faith leaders who weren’t too concerned about COVID or public health guidelines during a pandemic, plus folks who are brand new to our community, with little-to-no experience or interest in public service thus far, are all of a sudden begging to be elected to make decisions for our school district and our kids. It also makes you wonder: if these churches are going to weigh in on political issues and tell people what to think about politics and how to vote in local elections, should they be tax exempt? We’ll have to examine that question at greater length in a future episode. Next week we’ll pick up where we left off and ask these candidates about issues that actually matter to Wenatchee families, regardless of what this guy, this guy and this guy think. Join me next week for more Common Sense.

SOURCES

District position statements: Critical Race Theory, DEI and Sexual Health Ed, Wenatchee School District: https://bit.ly/3z93LYK

Hogwarts Subjects: https://harrypotter.fandom.com/wiki/Hogwarts_subjects

Grace City Church on Critical Race Theory: https://youtu.be/UHaJEPEjf6o

Health director: COVID-19 lawsuit interfered with agency’s response, NCW Life: https://bit.ly/3BfseOb