Gee: Turnout for Kent school bond ‘makes me scratch my head’

May 9, 2023, 11:01 AM | Updated: 12:56 pm

school board...

Kent School District building. (Photo courtesy of Kent School District)

(Photo courtesy of Kent School District)

A $495 million bond meant to improve Kent’s school buildings and athletic fields failed by a wide margin.

The bond got 52% voting ‘no’ and 48% ‘yes.’ The bond would have passed with 60% or more ‘yes’ votes. Only 27,000 or 26% of Kent voters cast ballots on the measure.

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The bond would have paid for facility improvements, health and safety improvements, and outdoor learning upgrades.

“It makes me scratch my head,” Gee Scott of The Gee & Ursula Show said of the small voter turnout.

“There’s a bunch of people who didn’t even bother to open up the prepaid postage-paid envelopes,” Ursula Reutin retorted. “This was an April special election, but for close to a half billion dollars, which would have translated to a lot of money for people.”

On the subject of why the measure failed, Gee and Ursula had plenty to say.

“Do I understand why this didn’t pass? Yes. For sure,” Gee said. “People are tired of ‘dink and dunk’ taxes. People are tired of every single day that they wake up there’s a new tax. No, nobody wants any more taxes. But we’re going to continue to have this shoved in our face.”

Gee pointed out that Washington stands as one of nine states with New Hampshire, South Dakota, Tennessee, Wyoming, Nevada, Florida, Alaska, and Texas, which does not have a state income tax.

“I think voters are saying, wait a minute, what are you doing with the money that we already pay into this?” Ursula pointed out. “And I think that the school board has to go back out and find out. ‘Well, why did you say no?’ And maybe come up with a smaller amount.”

The Seattle School District is considering spending $250 million to renovate Seattle Center’s Memorial Stadium.

“I think when voters look at this stuff, they say, ‘Do we really need to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on facilities?’ Or do we simply need structures that kids can learn in that are safe?” show producer Andrew “Chef” Lanier said. “And I think there’s a lot of extras in the bonds that voters objected to.”

Kent Schools Superintendent Israel Vela said in an update after the election results that the district would be considering its options going forward.

“Together, we have a powerful impact on students and the pursuit of their educational goals and dreams,” Vela said. “And yes, together, we will continue successfully preparing all students for their futures! We will look at all options and provide information in the coming weeks on our next steps in this process.”

Listen to Gee Scott and Ursula Reutin weekday mornings from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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