Candidates for Tonasket School Board introduce themselves at forum

Candidates for Tonasket School Board met in a forum held at the Tonasket Community Cultural Center.

Candidates for Tonasket School Board gathered in Tonasket earlier in the month to introduce themslves and answer a few questions as to why they are seeking a position on the board. The are Ken Catone, Debbie Roberts, Pete Valentine, Joyce Fancher, Racqel  Plank and Jenny Wilson.. Gary DeVon/staff photo

Editor’s Note: Candidates for Tonasket School Board met in a forum held at the Tonasket Community Cultural Center. On hand were all six candidates: Racqel Plank and Pete Valentine for School Director District 2; Joyce Fancher (incumbent) and Debbie Roberts for School Director District 3 and Jenny Wilson (incumbent) and Ken Catone for School Director District 5

Each candidate was asked to introduce themselves and then they were asked several questions put to them by Laura Knowlton, the moderator for the evening. The following are their introductions.


Jenny Wilson

I am running in District 5 for Tonasket School Board. I have completed one four-year term on the school board and it has been a huge learning curve for me. We’ve been through COVID and we’ve been through hiring a superintendent. Just a lot of big things that gave me the opportunity to grow and learn a lot about our school. Some of the things I’m an advocate of include number one, academics. We are really driving to bring academics back and that was at the request of parents by survey. So that’s great, I feel real good about backing that. Another thing is character building in our students. Also, athletics is something I’ve been an advocate for, just to make our programs better. It is also important to me and the current board to continue to bring back career-oriented skills. Not all our kids are headed to college, some are headed to trade schools, and some right out into the working world. To me, it’s important that we continue to offer opportunities for those students.

When I started out four years ago I was told by current a board member to always keep the students our number one priority. That is definitely where I stand and that is where my heart is – with our students.

I was born and raised in Tonasket, I am a Tiger through and through. My husband was raised here and I have four children that have been raised here – two out of high school that have graduated and two that are currently in high school. I take a lot of pride in Tonasket and if I can continue to serve we have a lot of great things on our agenda. One of the things I really want to do is make everything more transparent.

Rachel Racqel Plank

The reason I’m running is because I deeply care about the community. I am a hometown girl, born and raised in Tonasket. My kids have also been born and raised in Tonasket and we’ve really had a good experience with Tonasket School District in multiple different ways. Right now we are utilizing the Outreach program and that has been to great effect and I really enjoy working with the Outreach. I think that would be an important part of my coming to the school board – being able to help people see what a value the Outreach program is. Not all students are the same, their goals are different, and I have found outreach to be very nibble for students learning in different ways. It has been effective for my children.

I have a real appreciation for teachers and how hard that work is. So, I would like to be a member of the school board to support teachers.

Joyce Fancher

Hi my name is Joyce Fancher and I’m running for Position 3. Why I got on the school board and why I want to be on the school board is I taught in Tonasket for 24 years. While I was teaching the kids would come to me and say why do we haave to do it this way. I’d say, well we have to. So, when I retired I ran for school board and I was elected, this is my second term on the school board. I was asked why do you want to be on the school board. I have two really big reasons. Number one is the students – the decisions you make on the school board affect the students. Sometimes they don’t get that connection. I am a teacher and staff advocate. The board has to know the way you make your decisions, they can affect the staff and they have to understand that. I am a student advocate first and a staff advocate second.

I am absolutely an academic excellence advocate. Tonasket has produced a lot of amazing students at our school. It just astounds me sometimes what all our students have done. I want to continue that tradition.

After eight years on the school board and 24 years teaching I am connected to Tonasket Schools as much as one could possibly be and I want to continue that. Thank you.

Pete Valentine

I am running for District 2. The main reason I am running is I want to look back years from now and say I did everything in my power to make sure my kids had the best opportunity at school that they could. I have three young children that will be coming up in the school district really soon. I want to make sure they had the best opportunity possible and when they get to high school they’ll have Running Start, regular school or Outreach. Whether they go to college or straight into the workforce like I did or go into the military, I just want to know they have all the options presented to them so they can choose for themselves what’s going to be best for their life.

Debbie Roberts

My name is Debbie Roberts and I am running for District 3 also. I’ve been in Tonasket for 14 years. My husband grew up here and he teaches English. His father was a doctor and his mother was a high school teacher in English. So, the last four years we’ve been back and forth from wherever we lived and Tonasket.

I have a BA in Spanish and Religion (addresses the audience in Spanish). I know there’s another person on the board that speaks Spanish much better than I do, but I think there’s about 40 percent of the students that speak Spanish. I think there should be another person on the board who speaks Spanish and is interested in relating with family through language.

I have a master’s in divinity degree as well. So, in the last 35 years or so I have been a pastor in some form or other. Fifteen years before we moved back here I was a chaplain at a university where I oversaw spiritual nurturing and pastoral duties as well as implementing a mediation program for students to engage their conflict in healthy ways. And that progressed and became a campus-wide program. Which led me to my PhD in Religious Studies with an emphasis on conflict transformation. I’ve been teaching conflict transformation courses for about the last 10 years. I’m very interested in that.

I would be new to the board and I think I’d bring a fresh perspective and I’m very interested in learning about the text and the programs and watching with them and following the Biblical mandate…. (time runs out).

Ken Catone

I’m running for the school board because I believe in the value of the process of education. I’ve lived in Tonasket for almost 30 years. My kids attended Tonasket Schools and graduated from here. I’m very proud of the school, school board, teacher and kids. I am a person that listens to all sides. I work well with others to help make sound decisions that are best for the students and the community.

I am running because I want to give back to the community. I am going to retire in two or three years so I thought now would be a good time to give to the community.