LAKEWOOD — The Nov. 5 general election is only three weeks away, and Snohomish County voters should soon be receiving their ballots.
Michael Blank and Oscar Escalante are running for the Lakewood School District Director District 1 position and reflected on their campaigns so far.
“I have learned a lot about the local businesses and how they want to be involved in the schools in some capacity — be it mentoring or going into class and talking about their business and what the kids will need to be successful working for them,” said Blank.
Escalante, who has served on the board for 12 years, has been interacting with the community since the primary election, looking for input on how to best to represent them.
“It is interesting to hear people’s different ideas and understandings of how the board governs the district and how it should be governed,” said Escalante. “I appreciate people’s honesty and interest in the district, and although some of them have no children in the district, they care deeply about the future of the district and the impact it has in the community. I appreciate that.”
With all of the election coverage and soundbites, Blank is hoping that voters will keep in mind that education has been a big part of his family for decades.
“I had a great grandma who taught in a one-room schoolhouse at the turn of the 20th century, and my grandmother taught in one in 1929 in Spooner, Wisc.,” he said. “My aunt was a teacher, and eventually became a principal and district administrator, and I have another aunt who served on the Margate, N.J. school board. Education is in my blood, and it is now my turn to do my part.”
Escalante also wants voters to know a little bit more about him before they make their decision.
“One thing many people don’t know about me is that after my separation from the military, my wife had a plan for me,” Escalante said. “She knew my leadership capabilities and the dedication I can put in to something I am passionate about. Consequently, she volunteered me to be a PTA member. It was time for me to engage in my own children’s education, she stated. Ever since then I have served my school district, from PTA president to Director District 1.”
Escalante is hoping that his years of experience with local schools will help him stay in his position on the school board.
“My experience in education qualifies me for the Director District 1 position,” he said. “In 1986, I graduated from high school from the Los Angeles School District. During my years of active duty, I enrolled in the United States Department of Labor and completed the Purchasing Agent Apprenticeship program. Having the experience in getting a technical education, I decided to become a college student and, in 1997, I graduated from college with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, while on active duty serving my country in the United States Navy. In November of this year, I will be completing my internship and will receive my Master of Science in Mental Health Counsel for the Gulf War. People need to know that I care about the quality of education for each child in our school district, and I have the experience and the tools required to work in collaboration with teachers, administrators, staff and board members to come together and move forward to create a safe and inspiring learning environment for our children.”
Escalante believes that his experience is what sets him apart from his opponent.
“The experience in a governing board is something I already possess,” he said. “I will be investing my time in working on what is important for the district and the priorities identified by our community and the district administration recommendations to the board — rather than going through the learning curve on how the district is governed. We have policies in place that a new board member needs to become familiar with and then question it, not the other way around. I have a strong, effective, collaborative working relationship with the board. Therefore, together we will build consensus and make decisions that positively impact our students and the community we all live in.”
Blank said that what sets him apart from his opponent is a new view on the role of education.
“I feel that what sets me apart is a fresh perspective on the issues,” said Blank. “My opponent has never had to face someone in an election and 12 years in one position is plenty. Our founding fathers never intended for people serve that long in one position. You need to have turnover so the people can be fairly represented. Let’s thank my opponent for 12 years of service to the community and give me a try. I know I can do the job, I just need the voters to give me a chance.”
The general election is set for Tuesday, Nov. 5.