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Three square off in school board primary

An Aug. 21 primary election is in store for candidates seeking an open Oak Harbor School Board position.

Three candidates are running for the seat being vacated by Vicki Harring, who decided not to run for a third term.

Running in the election are long-time school critic Bill Burnett, construction project manager David Sherman and restaurant owner Frank Pulu.

For Burnett, the current election marks the third time he has run for a school board seat. He last ran two years ago against Gary Wallin.

He said he wants to work to improve academic achievement for low income students.

“We need to look at ways to do more at a local level to improve the academic achievement of students,” Burnett said.

To help with that, he advocates using levy dollars to provide cash incentives for students who qualify for free and reduced price lunches. He also wants to provide levy dollars to those low income families in the form of vouchers. Parents would use the vouchers to hire private tutors to help their children.

“It’s a proposal I think its time has come,” Burnett said.

Burnett retired from the Navy in 1998, works at Delex Systems, and has lived on Whidbey Island, off and on, since 1983. He is married and has two children in middle school.

One of the candidates facing Burnett is David Sherman. The school board election marks the first time he has filed for public office. He had been debating between the school board and city council, but thought he could make more of a difference helping students.

“I can serve more of a purpose on the school board,” Sherman said.

He has been a fixture at school board meetings for the past year and he also served on the budget reconciliation committee that made recommendations to resolve a shortfall in the district’s 2007-2008 school year budget. He added that his experience as a project manager for Island Construction could be helpful during the high school renovation project.

He sees improving communication between the school board and the public, employees and union representatives as a main issue.

Sherman graduated from Oak Harbor High School in 1986. He is married and has two children who attend Oak Harbor Christian School.

The third candidate running in the primary is restaurant owner Frank Pulu. Like Sherman, the school board election marks the first time he has ever run for public office.

“I do a lot of things for the community and the school,” Pulu said. He owns Frank’s Place, the patriotic-themed restaurant on Highway 20.

Pulu said he helped raise money for the new high school stadium.

“I’m a good omen for the community,” Pulu said.

He has owned his restaurant for five years. Prior to that, he worked as commissary manager on the base. He has three children, two of whom are still in high school.

There is another seat on the school board that will have a permanent new face after the November general election. Incumbent Kathy Jones isn’t seeking reelection. In her place will be Peter Hunt, who is running unopposed. Mike Pruyne had filed to run against Hunt, however, he later withdrew.

Hunt has been active in promoting recent school district bond and levy issues.

“I just thought I could offer a bit to the community,” Hunt said.

He has volunteered at the elementary schools and he was a member of the budget reconciliation committee.

Hunt is a medically-retired airline pilot and is set to get his graduate degree in August from the University of Washington. He is married and he has two children who attend Oak Harbor schools.

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