Droid duo emerge as joint candidates for Vashon unoffocial mayor

The force is strong with Vashon’s first candidates for unofficial mayor. (Courtesy Photo)

The force is strong with Vashon’s first candidates for unofficial mayor. (Courtesy Photo)

BB-8 and R2-D2, acclaimed far and wide for their service and loyalty to the Resistance and Rebel Alliance causes in the Star Wars realm, have announced their joint candidacy in the race for unofficial mayor of Vashon.

Regarded as heroes across several galaxies for their wit, determination and mechanical prowess, the droids have made pivotal contributions to the advancement of freedom and the defeat of the Empire. Beth Lindsay, president of the Vashon Schools Foundation, is a firm believer that the pair are likewise equipped to promote the values of science, technology, engineering and math — a responsibility, she said, that is fundamental to the education of the island’s children.

“Right here, in this galaxy, we have statistics saying that Vashon Schools are amazing, but there are always ways to improve,” she said, highlighting the emphasis of STEM learning in the district. “These are the droids Vashon is looking for. They will use the force for good to make Vashon schools out of this world.”

Lindsay’s husband Craig, who works in technology, originally brought BB-8 to life for a side project using a 3-D printer as a way to get the couple’s young daughter interested in technology, as well as to apply STEM learning at home.

“This is our family’s way of engaging with that. He started with BB-8, and it proved to be really challenging, but when he got it completed the kids were really excited,” she said, adding that BB-8 soon developed a following on the island. “Last year my family dressed as Star Wars characters, and we had BB-8 with us, and he was really popular.”

“BB-8 is truly a wonder, just like the character; it’s like magic. He rolls and his head moves,” she said.

Not long after her election as president of the foundation, Lindsay realized that the eponymous, beloved movie character, followed by 3-D printed stalwart and legend R2-D2, were equally suited ambassadors for the school foundation’s mission of supporting education and county programs.

“The foundation was started about 10 years ago in a crisis. It was a time when the economy was really faltering and the school funding from the state was really decreasing, to the point where the Vashon School District was facing the decision to lay teachers off,” she said. “Island supporters got together to make sure that wouldn’t happen. They would raise enough money to support teachers who were facing cuts. Since then, despite the state legislature having funded education through the McCleary decision, there’s still a gap in what students expect from their schools. The School Foundation fills that gap.”

The Vashon Schools Foundation has raised more than $2 million to benefit island students and teachers since it was created. BB-8 and R2-D2, both officially licensed and registered with LucasFilm, will campaign to raise $10,000 for the foundation and plan to appear throughout the summer at a number of events, including the Strawberry Festival.

“Our Foundation will continue to work with the school district to bring the best opportunities for our kids and to make learning really fun,” said Lindsay.

Those interested in joining the race for Vashon’s unofficial mayor have until Friday, June 1, to declare.

Candidates must select an island nonprofit to fundraise for, submit a letter from the organization giving permission to fundraise and declare their run to the chamber and newspapers. Islanders vote for their favorite candidates: $1 is one vote. Winners are announced during Strawberry Festival. Visit vashonchamber.com for more information.

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