Letters to the editor | Feb. 8 edition

Readers write in about climate change, Washington State Ferries, the school district levy, and more.


Climate Commitment Act is a great step forward

For decades, fossil fuel companies, including Exxon, have lied to us about the true price we pay for gas. They have encouraged us to spew the wastes of their products into the air, while deceiving us into thinking there was no waste. Meanwhile, they made obscene profits without paying a cent to clean up their mess.

I’m proud to live in a state that had the political will to pass the Climate Commitment Act. It causes most of the biggest greenhouse gas producers in our state to buy allowances for the air pollution they cause, and it has clear incentives and deadlines for them to reduce their pollution. It also raises money for us to begin fixing the problems they have caused. It’s a great step forward.

To reduce the impacts of climate change, we must do things differently than we have for decades.

Virginia Lohr


Dismayed by incident

Dear Washington State Ferries,

I am interested in Vashon being a diverse community. Where people who are Black and people of color feel at home, where affordable housing is available, and cultural sharing is fostered. This is important to my faith which fights racism with love.

I was appalled to learn that on Saturday evening, Jan. 13, around 9 p.m. at the Point Defiance ferry terminal, a guest speaker at the Unitarian Universalist church, a dark-skinned person with heritage from India, was accosted by a ferry worker who inquired pointedly as to her reasons for traveling to Vashon. Though unspoken, our guest very much felt the inquiry was related to her race. The ferry worker was White.

Why would a ferry worker presume to act this way? I have never heard of such an action, nor has anyone ever asked me, a White person, my reasons for traveling to Vashon.

I expect an immediate apology to her. And I expect the Washington State Ferry system to require all employees to receive training so that this will not happen again.

Tanya Roberts


Levy will address critical, needed improvements

As parents, school district employees and members of the Vashon Island community, we are writing to express support for the Vashon Island School District Capital and Technology Levy. Funds from the levy will address critically needed capital improvements as well as enable the district to acquire, install and implement instructional technology, preparing our students for life beyond high school. The levy will also enhance staff salaries for those who work in academics as well as health and safety (building/facilities improvement and maintenance).

We urge our fellow community members to join us in voting in favor of the Vashon Island School District Capital and Technology Levy. Please remember to return your ballot on or before February 13th.

Risa Stahl, SEIU Food Services, and Mark Frey, SEIU Facilities/ maintenance

Levy crucial for schools, community

We are writing to express our strong support for the renewal of the Vashon Island School District Safety, Security, and Technology local levy that is currently under consideration. As members of the school community, we believe that supporting this levy is crucial for the continued well-being and growth of our schools and community.

We appreciate the efforts undertaken by our local leaders to carefully assess the needs of our schools and propose this levy as a means to fulfill them. Investing in our schools ensures a vibrant and sustainable future for generations to come.

We are confident that the funds generated through this levy will be utilized judiciously and transparently, with a focus on addressing the specific needs outlined in the proposal. The positive impact of this levy on our schools growth and prosperity cannot be overstated.

Together, we can contribute to the betterment of our schools and create an environment where every student is welcomed, known, and treasured and graduates confident and competent to thrive in a future they imagine.


Vashon Education Association (Jenny Granum, President)

Vote yes to keep our schools the pride of our community

Fellow Vashon Residents, I appeal for your support of our island public school district by voting “YES” to renew the 2024-28 Capital and Technology Levy on the upcoming Feb. 13 special election ballot. Important services including counseling, mental health support, special education, technology services and facility maintenance are at stake.

People are often surprised to learn that these needs are either dramatically underfunded, or not provided for at all by the state of Washington. This reality leaves the Vashon Island School District extremely dependent upon local levy support from our community.

Renewing the current levy allows proper preservation of school buildings and the ability to purchase necessary hardware upgrades, electronic classroom tools and software licenses, while enhancing network infrastructure to ensure our students are competitive academically.

Voting “Yes” for the levy also saves funding in the general budget to support recruiting, training and retaining highly qualified teaching staff. The financial stability the levy provides ensures resources for ongoing professional development that enhances the quality and strength of instruction in our classrooms.

Community support has allowed generations of students on Vashon to receive far beyond a “basic” public education as defined by the state. If you believe, as I do, that quality education is a civil right, rather than a privilege for those who can afford it, now is the time to step up once again to ensure what we now enjoy will be there for the future Orcas, Mustangs and Pirates.

Our schools are a source of pride for our community and are often identified as a primary reason for locating here on Vashon and nearby. The school district is also the largest employer on Vashon and a crucial element in the health of our island economy.

I ask for your continued support for our island students and public schools by marking your ballot “Yes” and delivering it to the ballot drop box at the library by Feb. 13.

Rheagan Sparks, Former School Board Member, Former President Vashon Schools Foundation

Levy essential for students in the digital era

As a parent and the PTO (Parent-Teacher Organization) President of the Vashon Island Public Schools, I extend my deepest gratitude for the consistent support our community has shown for capital project levies over the past two decades. This support has been instrumental in shaping the educational landscape of our island.

Proposition No. 1 is a crucial step towards ensuring our schools are equipped for the future. The proposed improvements, from the CES New Fire Control Panel to district-wide HVAC enhancements and technological upgrades, are essential in modernizing our learning spaces and preparing students for success in a digital era.

What’s impressive is our district’s dedication to local investment. By partnering with on-island construction companies and vendors, this levy not only upgrades our schools but also contributes to the vitality of our local economy, fostering growth and sustainability within our community.

Furthermore, the responsible fiscal stewardship of our district is noteworthy. Despite these necessary upgrades, we’ve managed to maintain one of the smallest school district tax rates in King and Pierce counties.

Passing Proposition No. 1 isn’t just about improving our schools; it’s about fortifying the future of Vashon Island. It will positively impact our entire community, ensuring our schools remain safe, advanced, and conducive to learning. Let’s unite in support of Proposition No. 1 on Feb. 13, 2024.

Warm regards,

Leigh Anne McKeen

Vote “yes” to keep children safe

I strongly encourage community members to pull out their ballots and vote “yes” in favor of Prop No. 1, the Safety, Security, and Technology Improvement Levy (CapTech) up for renewal in the Feb. 13 election. CapTech will help Vashon Island School District keep students safe with much needed and overdue playground repairs, building security and ventilation upgrades and internet controls.

The basic safety and security of children is a top priority for any thriving community. I hope Vashon sends a message of overwhelming support for our students and teachers on Feb. 13, by voting “yes” for the CapTech Levy.

Jeni Johnson, Executive Director of Vashon Youth and Family Services

Levy will keep schools and learning in tip-top shape

We, the Vashon Schools Foundation, are writing to express our wholehearted support for the upcoming VISD Safety, Security, and Technology Improvements Levy.

When people get fired up about funding education, they aren’t usually thinking about safety and technology. So it might be easy to overlook this levy, coming up on Feb. 13. That, however, would be a mistake for our island and our students.

This levy addresses crucial needs in our educational infrastructure. We have wonderful, caring schools on Vashon, where art projects abound and second-grade scientists look for bugs in the woods. These schools need our care and attention.

Did you know that the fire safety system at Chautauqua Elementary is outdated and sounds occasional “false alarms,” disrupting the school day? Passing the levy will fix that. Did you know that a large piece of the aging Chautauqua playground was broken for several months last spring because replacement parts are no longer readily available? Let’s update this playground, Vashon.

The levy will also fund technology support and maintenance across the district. Why would kids need screens at school? Technology gives teachers a powerful tool to personalize each student’s learning experience. Technology also provides crucial accessibility tools for students with learning disabilities, so these children can share their knowledge and access their curriculum in ways that wouldn’t otherwise be possible.

Without passing the levy, our district may have to make safety improvements by cutting important programs, and the district simply won’t have the funds to keep essential technology devices up to date.

This levy is not a new tax. It does not fund new programs or staff. This levy allows Vashon to continue to make investments in our public schools that keep our buildings working and give our kids the tools they need to thrive.

We urge our fellow islanders to join us in voting YES on the VISD Safety, Security and Technology Improvements Levy. Let’s invest in the future of our community by ensuring our schools provide a safe, nurturing, and technologically advanced environment for our students.

Kennedy Leavens on behalf of the Vashon Schools Foundation


New facility would serve dog owners and fans

I don’t own a dog. But I want a dog park.

My beloved Annie, rescued from terrible circumstances by Amy Carey (one of the co-founders of Haven, the island’s new animal organization), died 3 years ago. I had hoped there would be some significant action on a dog park before that. I was involved in one of the many efforts over the past decade plus to create an off-leash park here on the island. But still I wait.

And still I want a dog park. I want a dog park that is, as in many other areas, a community. That I, a less active senior, can easily walk to, can sit and enjoy the company of dogs and their owners. I want a gathering place for people and dogs.

I have been to dog parks all over this area. These are communities of responsible citizens, who, working with government entities, have created safe, clean, enjoyable settings for dogs, their owners and families, and dog lovers.

There is a responsible group here (FIDO) who continue the work started many years ago (and sometimes abandoned in frustration) by Vashonites who saw the need for an off-leash park. This group understands the many elements involved in creating a park. They are working tirelessly with involved groups on the Island and with King County to clarify, explain and promote the many benefits of an off-leash park, and to answer the frequent and often unfounded complaints.

A few months ago King County fielded a survey of actions for King County, including a dog park. Sixty-six percent favored an off-leash dog park. As a retired marketing executive, I am bowled over by a 66% response!

It is time for a public service to fill the needs of this sizable community of dog owners and dog fans and create an off leash dog park. We have an amazing array of public facilities here on the island. It is time to add a facility for an underserved community – dog owners and lovers.

I don’t own a dog. But I want a dog park.

Dee Munson


Feeling disgust over violence against Palestinians

Glad to see the Beachcomber featured an article on the Vashon demonstration calling for a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war. (“A call for ceasefire in the heart of Vashon,” Feb. 1 edition.)

I was born to Jewish parents, thought Israel was something magical, and was a mildly patriotic American. In 1961 I served in the U. S. Army. In 1966, I worked as a cowhand on an Israeli kibbutz. That beginning would tend to make one pro-Israel and pro-United States. Yet I am neither.

Pro-Israel testimony at the International Court of Justice began with Hamas’s horrendous rocket barrage and attack on Israel on Oct. 7, as if nothing had happened prior. Not addressed were the Palestinians having been driven from their homes in 1948 nor the Israeli military occupation of Gaza and the West Bank for decades. If someone drove you from your home and began ordering you around, wouldn’t that make you a trifle angry?

Look at a map of Israel. It’s obvious that Israel will do anything to gain more land. The country is simply too narrow and therefore hard to defend. Now Israel is even willing to commit genocide to further its aims. Israel’s government has become what it hated, and apparently forgotten the lessons of the Holocaust. And my country has become their genocide enabler, furnishing Israel with weapons.

I’m not sure if I feel more disgust with Israel or with my own country.

Shelley Simon