Meet your four Blaine school board candidates

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Four Blaine school district area residents are running for two seats on the Blaine school district board of directors. With board member Joan Lotze not seeking a third term, the District 3 seat will be filled by a new face. In District 5, incumbent and board vice president Laura McKinney will seek another term.

Below are some questions The Northern Light asked the candidates and their answers, edited for length and clarity.

District 3

Erika Creydt

Erika Creydt has three kids who have attended Blaine schools in the past. Creydt said her kids switched to an online schooling program because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Creydt is a psychologist and clinical director of TouchStone Health Clinic in downtown Blaine. She has a doctorate in clinical psychology from the Adler School of Professional Psychology in Chicago.

Q: Why are you running?

A: I would like to see the school district thrive academically. Also, I’m aware of the challenges. I run a business, and I’m aware of all the different challenges that are being presented to organizations with Covid. About every week something new rolls out and, organizationally, it’s really difficult to adjust to. I’m also aware of the challenges as a parent for what it’s been like during Covid to confidently readjust to the ever-changing situation.

And I want to see the Blaine school district be a place where the kids can thrive academically as well as socially and
emotionally.

Q: What is your priority?

A: Academics. Making sure that there are opportunities and pathways to vocational training as well as higher education. Making sure that the social and emotional needs [of students] are met. Mental health is something that really impacts learning, a lot more than people realize.

Q: What do you think the school board does well?

A: I think the school board does a great job navigating these challenging situations that keep coming up. This last year has been pretty wild in terms of constant new challenges thrown at any organization. I think they’ve done a great job creating more opportunities for the public to communicate with them.

Bob Feaster

Bob Feaster is a married father of five who served 35 years in public education. Feaster has been a school psychologist, special education director and assistant superintendent as well as a university instructor teaching graduate courses in psychology and education. He was also a high school football official for 20 years.

Feaster has been a special education aide, substitute school counselor, substitute bus aide and coordinator for the Blaine school district Family Service Center.

Q: Why are you running?

A: I understand school districts as they have always been a part of my life and a passion. When I retired and moved to Blaine six years ago, I was looking for ways to get involved in school. I began by volunteering reading to kids in the hallways of Blaine Elementary School. Then I was encouraged to become a substitute.

I thought it would be a good opportunity to serve the community and bring my skills and past experience to the position.

Q: What is your top priority?

A: My top priority would be to make sure the district is run well – run with a steady hand. The school board’s job is to hire a superintendent and provide a superintendent with appropriate goals, to evaluate that person, to set policies and so on. I don’t have an agenda to fix one thing. I think the district is pretty well run. But I think we need at least one person on the board with an education background.

Q: What do you think the school board does well?

A: I think they’ve done a good job managing the Covid issues. They have followed the science. They have followed the recommendations of various health departments and the governor. And I know that’s been hard on them. But they have done, in my opinion, the right thing to do for students.

District 5

Laura McKinney

Laura McKinney has five children who have all attended the Blaine school district, two of whom are still in the district. McKinney is currently the government affairs and public relations manager for Alcoa’s Transformation Group. She has worked as the director of communications for Whatcom Business Alliance and as a U.S. diplomat in Tbilisi, Georgia; Vancouver, B.C.; and Ljubljana, Slovenia.

McKinney has lived in Blaine since 2001.

Q: Why are you running?

A: I’m running for a second term on the school board because I feel like there is continuous opportunity to improve the situation in our school district. There’s still more work to be done. And I think there is still some value I can add in supporting some students and our families in our school district.

Q: What is your top priority?

A: My top priority continues to be the focus on the success of our students for their futures. To make sure that when they are leaving our school system, they are well prepared for careers, college and to be good citizens in our community.

Q: What do you think the school board does well?

A: The primary function of the school board is to drive policy, and I think that we have a plan to review and update our policies. Those are the policies that direct the superintendent and the school district and guide future direction. I think we are on a good path to continue to do that. We are also working on the best methods to engage the community on that policy and discussion.

We are working to better understand our role and function in improving and supporting the school district.

Rocky Butler

Rocky Butler has three kids in Blaine schools, two in middle school and one in elementary. Butler has lived in Whatcom County since 2018 and moved to Birch Bay in 2019. She currently works as a software support agent for Los Angeles company Solid Commerce.

Butler’s family has volunteered with the Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association since 2019 and at American Legion Post 86 serving breakfast and dinner since 2020.

Q: Why are you running?

A: As a mom who has to navigate being able to advocate for her child in special education – my middle child, my 6th grader is autistic – it’s a really hard thing to make sure that special education kids have the same opportunities as non-special education kids. And I have seen some parents leave the district because of it.

So, instead of being a complainer, why wouldn’t I want to be someone who is part of the solution?

Q: What is your top priority?

A: My top priority would be to make sure the kids that need support have the opportunity to get it, and really making sure their teachers know they have the power to help these kids. They see our kids every day so they know our kids just about as well as we do.

Q: What do you think the school board does well?

A: Before I started running for the school board, I really didn’t know what the school board actually did. Just having come into it, I didn’t know that the school board hired the superintendent. That was interesting to learn how the board creates policies for the superintendent to implement. And to my knowledge, I think they’ve made a good choice with the current superintendent.

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