Guest Opinion | Landslide Votes Enough to Run Bond Again An Open Letter to the Orcas Island School Board

— from Randall K. Gaylord —

Dear School Board: Please submit the capital facilities bond proposal to the voters again in the next election, without change. Conventional thinking is to make a modification to a proposal before resubmitting it, but in this case that’s not necessary. Here’s why.

You have gathered all of the community input and put the best proposal forward.

You succeeded in obtaining approval from 59.9 percent of the counted votes. Just three votes shy of 60 percent. In a candidate election, that would be considered a “landslide” victory. You only needed to have changed the vote of three voters, or had seven additional ballots vote “yes.” You should have confidence that you can do that, and more.

Probably enough votes were cast in favor of the measure. Do you realize that 16 ballots were rejected because of a late postmark or missing signature – more than enough to have changed the result? Late postmarks most commonly happen because mail is deposited after 3:00 p.m. on election day and then postmarked the next day. Due to ballot secrecy we will never know for sure, but the late-arriving ballots were solidly in favor of the measure, so that alone is a good reason to simply run the election again.

Looking back, you will remember the bad roads and cold weather during balloting time. That happens sometimes. During such times, the natural reaction of people is to put off voting, or not forward mail to family members living out of the home temporarily. When the weather’s bad, the focus is on moving about safely and keeping the house heated.

“16 ballots were rejected because of a late postmark or missing signature”

You should expect that bad roads and weather won’t be a factor next time, and the turnout will be higher and better reflect the wishes of the community.

Running the same proposal again is not going against the will of the people. Remember, 59.9 percent of the counted votes approved the measure. A bond election is not like a candidate election. There is no primary and the winner does not assume office. You are allowed to run it again, and that should be expected.

Running the measure promptly is the best way to pay for needed capital facilities and take advantage of current low interest rates. No other funding approach is as cost effective as a bond. If interest rates rise before the project is done, the projects will cost more. Please take advantage of the low interest rates and don’t delay.

You will probably hear that you should remove one thing or another and run it again – that the track or the music room or maintenance needs caused people to vote against this proposal. That would make sense if the approval was closer to 50 percent. But 59.9 percent (or more) approved the measure, which shows you have put together a good combination of capital projects.

It’s time for the school district to take a page from other districts, and form a committee to advocate for projects and remind people to sign their ballots and get them to the post office or ballot box early and not on election day. State law limits what school directors can say as a group and prevents the school from using its resources to advocate for the measure, but it does not mean you as individuals should remain quiet. The public wants to see your commitment and one way to do that is to form a committee to explain and advocate, so that voters have the information they need.

Your responsibility and next decision will be felt by the entire community. Our public schools are not exclusively used by public school students. The gyms, music rooms, athletic fields, and the track will be used by all island children including those who are homeschooled and attend private school. We are fortunate that adults will also use these same facilities and their health, heart, and mind will also benefit from the improved facilities you have approved.

[Editor’s Note: Please note this was sent personally, and not as part of Randy Gaylord’s job.]

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Guest Opinion | Landslide Votes Enough to Run Bond Again An Open Letter to the Orcas Island School Board — 20 Comments

  1. “Due to ballot secrecy we will never know for sure, but the late-arriving ballots were solidly in favor of the measure..”

    HUH??

  2. Let’s get it on the ballot again.
    I am ready to go with my ‘yes’ vote again.
    Schools need the money.

  3. And how much does it cost to run it again?

    Eliminate the track from this proposal and how much more solid will you success be?

  4. I look forward to voting YES again – please submit the bond again AS IS!

    The track will be a welcome addition to our community – a safe gathering place to walk and talk for all of us!

  5. Why eliminate the track as part of the proposal? 59.9% thought it was a good idea.

    I, too, look forward to voting YES again, and to persuading others to vote in these important investments in our community.

  6. I agree with Randy. We have good people on our school board (we elected them), and they put in a lot of effort, with significant community input, to put together the best package. Many people voted “no” because it either didn’t include their pet project, or it included one item they didn’t like. Shuffling the mix will likely make it less likely to pass. Please people, learn to compromise when necessary, and trust your school board. Submit it again.

  7. I am aware of one friend who was voting “yes” but didn’t get that ballot turned in, so between that and Caroline Buchanan’s vote….we are down to a difference of one vote!!! I think we should get another chance to vote without any changes! Merry

  8. The County is going to do a “recount”, as requested by the School Board which should be finished by Friday (Mar 3rd). I want to see the result before commenting.

  9. Thank you, Randy, very well put. I am one that is committed to improving our school campus for the health, safety and physical well being of our children and our community for many generations to come.

  10. If anyone has a question about what I have written, I welcome your phone call – you will find my number in any phone book. I tried to call McGregor but there is no number in the book, and there is no registered voter by that name either. But my offer stands — Please call, and I’ll discuss your question.

  11. Take the track out and spend $1.3 mil other things that need to be done and I’ll vote “Yes”.

  12. The oh-so-slight failure of this bond hit me hardest when I heard the comment of a local senior lady I was sitting with during lunch at the Orcas Senior Center. She almost cried upon hearing of the ‘no’ result, saying that she so desperately wanted the track for a safe place for her to walk outside. Many seniors can’t safely walk our trail systems, rural roads, and unfinished sidewalks. A track would lend so much to ALL AGES of our community. I hope to see the bond go up again, with the track in tact.

  13. Good for you, Jami. You have focused on a little mentioned and needed community asset.

  14. Resubmit the bond EXACTLY the way it was presented in the first place. That way no one can blame any changes on a different outcome. (And I would guess there would be some folks who would do that “just because they can”).
    I have been a volunteer driver for the Senior Center for more than 15 years and I will assure you that there are Seniors who indeed WOULD use the track for safe walking, as well as the school kids.
    We probably will only need a recount but if not, I vote to present the bond again and then absolutely will vote YES for it to pass!
    Maggie

  15. I expect as part of the re-vote proposal that the numbers projecting costs to homeowners will be re-run in light of the expected interest rate increase at the Federal Reserve’s March meeting. The bond market participants have increased their expectations for several more interest rate hikes over the course of 2017, which may make the last set of projections less accurate.