Donaldson wins teachers union nod
In perhaps one of the most unsurprising actions early in this year's Pasco superintendent race, challenger Steve Donaldson - a teacher - has claimed the endorsement of the United School Employees of Pasco.
Donaldson had been seen campaigning on the union's Chasco Fiesta float (see photo on the left), several USEP members helped him gather petition signatures to win a spot on the ballot, and his materials have had a prominent spot at the USEP headquarters. On his blog, Donaldson had spoken about his meetings with union leaders to discuss how to improve the district in the future.
USEP president Lynne Webb said in early April, when the issue came up that it looked like the USEP had already chosen its man, that the group had not endorsed Donaldson.
But since then Donaldson, a Democrat, has taken aim at some of incumbent Republican Heather Fiorentino's pet projects, especially the USEP-reviled Learning Focused Solutions teaching strategies. He's also started talking about the need to give teachers their annual raises based on years of service, something Fiorentino has recommended freezing in tight budget times.
"If the Superintendent and the School Board insist on withholding time-in-service increases from lower-level employees, then a full accounting of the pet programs and waste in the district budget must not be withheld from the taxpayers," Donaldson campaign manager Christopher Lee said in a news release.
That could help him among school employees, who are about 10,000 strong. Still, his name recognition is low, and his Web site ticker shows just 2,596 visits in a county with nearly 280,000 registered voters. Stay tuned.