MARYSVILLE, Wash., December 12, 2021 – In the December 8 school board meeting, the Marysville School District administered its oath of office to three of four new school board members – Wade Rinehart replacing Vanessa Edwards in District 4, Connor Krebbs replacing Chris Nation in District 1, and Katie Jackson in District 5, who ran unopposed, replacing Jake Murray. But the final seat, District 3, remains vacant.
The District 3 seat was being held by Keira Atchley, who has held the position as incumbent director since summer of 2021, but her term expired at the December 8 meeting. Typically, a newly elected member would fill her position at this time, or she could have campaigned to remain throughout the next term.
Atchley expressed interest in running for the 2021-25 term, but having just been appointed in the summer, she was not made aware of the July deadline to be placed on the November ballot. She campaigned as a write-in candidate as a result.
While Atchley wanted the position, her only opponent, Sherry Weersing, expressly did not want the position. Weersing, the only candidate placed on the November ballot for the Marysville School District No. 25 District 3 position, attempted to pull out of the race in June, according to a set of emails to Atchley. In one email, Weersing claimed she was “trying to get this cleared up with the county and state” since withdrawing.
Weersing also signed a Statement of Termination of Campaign acknowledging that if elected, she would not accept the seat. But the statement of termination was dated July 29, weeks after the termination deadline, therefore leaving Weersing on the ballot.
Meanwhile, likely expecting to be removed from the race, Weersing did not to submit a Candidate Registration (C-1 report) to disclose her campaign information, as well as a Personal Financial Affairs Statement (F-1 report) to disclose her financial activities for twelve calendar months in order to become a candidate, the penalty of which includes a $200 fine ($100 for each report) for the hearing. Weersing will also face an additional fine if she retracts her statement of termination.
Though Weersing never submitted her campaign information to Snohomish County, and the voter’s pamphlet contained no information regarding her platform, Weersing managed to pull 80.3 percent of the votes. Despite Atchley’s efforts, including spending personal money campaigning, Atchley’s campaign as a write-in candidate could not defeat Weersing’s presence on the ballot.
Weersing had two options: accept the seat at the December meeting and pay the associated fines, or reject the seat altogether, leaving it open. Though neither Weersing nor the district was willing to answer questions about their intentions to fill the seat, on November 18, Atchley posted to her public Facebook page frustration that Weersing “has decided she will take the seat.”
“For her to change her mind now is very disappointing and doesn’t give me a good impression of her honesty and integrity, which is very much needed right now in Marysville,” Atchley told the Lynnwood Times. Weersing did not respond for comment.
Weersing did not attend the December 8 meeting to accept the oath of office, leaving the position vacant. To fill the seat, the board must now appoint a new director based on an application process. Atchley fully intends to apply for the District 3 position.
Whether Weersing or Atchley had earned the position, the question of transparency amongst the Marysville School District remains. Neither candidate was made aware of the requirements and deadlines of the candidacy, and the District 3 seat remains vacant as a result. Those in District 3 currently do not have representation on the school board, and the District has yet to make a statement explaining why.
The district has struggled with transparency in the past. The most recent tumult includes Superintendent Jason Thompson’s leave of absence after he allegedly accused the district, including alleged specific accusations toward Vanessa Edwards, of creating a hostile work environment. Yet it was implied that his departure was under the guise of a medical leave, though Communications Director Jodi Runyon said back in March that he was not suffering from a severe illness.
Thompson currently collects a $21,629.85 monthly pay which will continue until his official resignation takes effect in June 2022. The Marysville School District is currently looking for a new superintendent and will begin the application process this month.