Heading into election day this week, school board candidates in Spokane’s surrounding suburbs are raising money not often seen for a local volunteer board.

Though they were once sleepy contests where longtime incumbents often sailed to re-election without a challenger, they have become some of the most hotly contested races. In Eastern Washington, such attention is not focused on Spokane itself but its surrounding suburbs of Mead and Central Valley.

The race between Mead School Board candidates Jaime Stacy and Jennifer Killman has amassed more money than any other school board contest in Washington state this year.

The tens of thousands of dollars in each campaign’s coffers underscore the ideological – if not partisan – tint of the campaign. Stacy is a self-identified progressive focused on diversity and inclusion, while Killman is endorsed by the Spokane GOP and skeptical of the way race is addressed in public schools.

Cornell Clayton, Washington State University political science professor and director of the Foley Institute for Public Policy and Public Service, said the large campaign war chests in Mead and elsewhere in Eastern Washington are an example of how the previously “sleepy endeavor” of a local school board election has become the “current battleground for the culture wars.”

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