With Sunnyside School Board Chair Steve Carpenter retiring at the end of this year, there are three candidates vying for his post on the primary ballot recently sent out to voters.
All three are seeking publicly elected office for the first time.
Sandra Linde is a special programs coordinator, chaplain and grant writer at Sunnyside Community Hospital, which partners with the school district on a number of projects.
Linde has had four children graduate from Sunnyside schools and has two more who are still in school here.
She says she understands the challenges families face. No two families are alike, she adds.
"We need to look at families as individual families," Linde says. "There are language barriers, life experience barriers, and we need to help them through the school experience and succeed."
Linde, a fixture at school board meetings, sees her candidacy for the school board as a next step in her involvement with Sunnyside schools.
"There's probably not a (school district) committee that I haven't been on at some point, so I've been wanting to serve at the next level," she says.
She says her priority would be to prioritize spending in the face of what will likely be more budget cuts in the future.
"The number one priority is to keep the people who provide direct educational services," she says. "I will be in the buildings and be an advocate for staff and the good work they're doing."
Leroy Werkhoven of Sunnyside brings experience as an administrator in three different school districts. He was principal at Wapato High School for 15 years.
"I have an understanding of how school systems work and the protocol with WACs (Washington Administrative Codes)," said Werkhoven.
His top priority, if elected, is to address the school district's student dropout rate.
"I believe the greatest asset an individual can have is a great education," says Werkhoven, who co-owns a non-profit that helps students in the Gear Up and 21st Century learning programs.
"I believe all students can learn and that it is a community's responsibility to ensure every student has the resources to reach his or her potential," he notes.
Werkhoven, who raised thousands of dollars to support education through a cross-country bike ride, would also like to see the school district equip students with the skills to succeed in college.
He says that means the district needs to instill in students a sense that their learning will shape their lives for years.
"How does what you learn today influence your future? That's critical," says Werkhoven, who serves on boards that include Transformation Sunnyside, Loving Sunnyside and Dollars for Scholars.
Mike Wedam is a Sunnyside-based bovine veterinarian, and says he would like to apply his two decades of business experience to service on the Sunnyside School Board.
Though this is his first run at elected office, Wedam notes he did serve on a school board at St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Sunnyside. He added that he also has past experience with 4-H, the Sunnyside summer swimming program and the SHS athletic advisory board.
An adjunct faculty member of WSU's school of veterinary medicine, Wedam said if elected he would seek to hold not only students, but parents accountable.
Wedam said his focus now is on getting out and meeting the community, including a meet and greet event next Wednesday at Guerra's Coffee.
"I hope to meet with the public and get their views," he said. "I'm a good listener and I want to learn what's important to the (school district's) patrons."
If elected, Wedam said he would take those listening skills to the school board.
"I want to understand each board member's views," he said.
Wedam says that's important because school board members "are trustees of the money and the children of the district."
Ballots for the Aug. 16 primary were mailed to voters this week. Monday, Aug. 8, is the last day to register in person at the county courthouse to vote in the primary.