Common-sense conservative candidates win big in school board elections

Two Clark County candidates among those who received support from the Washington State Republican Party in the Nov. 7 general election.
Amanda Miller, La Center School Board candidate Gary Wilson, Evergreen School Board candidate

Two Clark County candidates among those who received support from the Washington State Republican Party in the Nov. 7 general election

The preliminary results from this general election are in and the success rate of the Washington State Republican Party (WAGOP) spotlighted and supported school board campaigns is outstanding.

Several months ago, the WAGOP identified 36 school board races from school districts all around the state to spotlight and support in this year’s general election. State parties don’t often get involved in local races, including school boards. The races are considered too local, too nonpartisan, and too risky.

For multiple reasons, the WAGOP decided to accept those challenges and get involved, specifically in school board races.

First, according to the Washington State Constitution, providing a uniform high-quality basic education is the “paramount duty” of state government. Second, there is a growing dissatisfaction in all corners of the state about the declining performance of our K-12 schools. Third, getting involved in local school board races would give the WAGOP an opportunity to perfect campaign tactics and strategies that the Party has been developing for some time. Fourth, supporting school board candidates was an opportunity to “reboot” the WAGOP and establish a framework for winning elections.

So, the party selected 36 school board races that represent a strong cross-section of Washington. Some races were in large districts, others in small districts. Some were in tight groupings, others more isolated. Some in traditionally “blue” areas, others in “red” areas. The common thread: Elections that involved clear choices between common-sense conservative candidates and … other types.

Those common-sense conservative candidates in the selected school board races received some or all of the following types of support from the WAGOP:

  • Help with establishing campaign strategies
  • Fundraising advice, tools, and assistance
  • Data tools — including precinct-prioritization lists, walk lists, etc.
  • Help with developing and implementing direct mail efforts
  • Support in developing policy positions, messaging and campaign teams
  • Assistance with canvassing, phone-banking and community outreach
  • Get Out the Vote support

As of initial Election Day reporting, the 36 campaigns fall into these categories: 30 winning, four too close to call, two trailing. That is an outstanding win rate that still has room to climb. 

Specifically, here are the 36 candidates running that the WAGOP supported this fall:

  • Amanda Miller/La Center School District
  • Anniece Barker/Central Valley School District
  • Antonio Machado Catano/Ferndale School District
  • Bill Hauss/Yelm Community Schools              
  • Carmen Weishaar/Odessa School District
  • Chuck Whitfield/Monroe School District   
  • Dan Peters/Selah School District               
  • Deborah Nesper/Oroville School District
  • Don Wiitala/ Longview School District
  • Frank Kline/Methow Valley School District
  • Gary Wilson/Evergreen School District          
  • Gretchen Miles, Joseph Romero, Shannon Burch/Puyallup School District
  • Jim Grose/Central Kitsap School District
  • Joan Marie Murphy/Federal Way School District
  • Jory Anderson/Sunnyside School District
  • Kandice Merz/Wahkiakum School District
  • Karen Lesetmoe/Oak Harbor School District
  • Lindy Mullen Doyle/Sedro-Woolley School District
  • Melissa Petrini/Highline School District
  • Michael Cannon, Alan Nolan, Jennifer Killman/Mead School District
  • Michael Rocha/Sequim School District                   
  • Michelle Simmons/Meridian School District
  • Mike Desmond/North Kitsap School District
  • Patrick Peacock/Tahoma School District           
  • Peter Finn/Riverside School District
  • Rich Wesen/Burlington-Edison School District   
  • Ron R. Powers/Sultan School District                   
  • Sherri Larkin/Snohomish School District
  • Steve Wolcott/West Valley School District
  • Susie Hawes/Rochester School District
  • Tanya Naillon/Onalaska School District
  • Todd Snarr/Asotin School District              

WAGOP Chairman Jim Walsh had this to say about the party’s successful school board support project:

“This has been such a great experience. Since I first called these candidates, earlier this year, they’ve been outstanding partners in building winning campaigns. We worked together to refine our strategies and tactics. Tools for listening and talking with everyone, all around Washington. Some candidates wanted more help, others less — but everyone agreed with the goal of showing voters that common-sense conservatives can win in every region of the state.

“And did we ever! Our winning percentage for these spotlighted school board races is outstanding. An ‘A’ grade, by any standard. Now, we’re going to scale up the lessons in winning that we’ve learned this fall. Into more races, in more parts of Washington.”

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  1. Margaret

    I hope these school board members will not support illegal strikes by public school teachers that are so harmful to students and families. When Evergreen and Camas teachers failed to show up for work on time and went on strike instead more than 30,000 students in Clark County were impacted. Many parents had to abruptly make plans to care for kids at home, taking personal or vacation time. Some parents kept working, yet had to suddenly make costly childcare arrangements . For contractors, landscapers, and others, parents lost work opportunities and income due to teacher strikes for higher pay. In Evergreen Schools, public schools were closed to students for 8 days while teachers went on strike. For more info on illegal strikes that were held by Evergreen and Camas Education Association unions in 2023, see

    1. Michael Jelineo

      Gary Wilson will work hard for EVERGREEN SCHOOL DISTRICT. I worked with him for 5 months helping with his Campaign which ended up in a WIN for him. this is why he will be replacing 24 year incumbent Victoria Bradford who did absolutely nothing good for Evergreen School District in her 24 years as a School Board Director. Gary is Dedicated to the job at Handle once Sworn in.

    2. Gary Wilson

      I hope to head off the strikes by cutting admin going forward and putting that money towards more para’s and raising their pay to attract and keep them.
      If there is another strike in 3 years I want it to only be about the money and not the shortage of classroom help.

    3. Michael See

      Maybe pay teachers a living wage with benefits and supply them the resources they need to teach our children so they don’t have to pay for them out of pocket.


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