School Board ‘candidates’ changed their mind

After previously announcing their candidacies for School Board, both Aleta Finnila and Jennifer McLellan of Mercer Island have decided not to challenge any of the incumbents on the Mercer Island School District Board of Directors.

In a special School Board meeting on May 21, Brian Emanuels was chosen by the board to fill the seat vacated by Lisa Strauch Eggers. Strauch Eggers departed from the board at the end of April.

Finnila and McLellan were the first to step forward and express interest in the vacant seat; however, the board deadlocked 2-2 on appointing either one of them in a meeting on May 3.

By the May 21 meeting, Leslie Ferrell, Emanuels and Maureen McLaughlin-Crawford had joined Finnila and McLellan in seeking Strauch Eggers seat. Ferrell was only interested in serving out Strauch Eggers’ term and had no plans to run for election. Emanuels was then unanimously chosen to serve out Eggers’ term.

Existing board president Pat Braman and board member Janet Frohnmayer’s seats are also up for re-election, and with Emanuels now seated, no one has come forward to challenge the incumbents.

“Brian happened to us — that’s what happened,” Finnila said. “When he filled the vacancy there would be three incumbents, and I couldn’t decide who I would run against.”

Finnila said she thought her strength would be to bring the board together. She said she met with Braman and Frohnmayer, who are the two who voted against her in the first round, to persuade them to select her for the interim position, but they wouldn’t budge.

“I just have to laugh,” Finnila said. “I think that I would have been one of the few people on the Island who actually would have enjoyed serving on the School Board.”

McLellan said in the two weeks since Emanuel’s appointment, she reassessed the best way she can contribute to the district.

“The Bridge the Gap campaign, which is so important to the schools, is where I can best use my skill sets,” McLellan said. “We’re all on the same page where we want the schools to go.”

Bridge the Gap did meet its $1.2 million goal by the June 10 deadline.

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