Six candidates running for three seats on the Richland School Board in Washington

Six candidates are running in the nonpartisan general election for Richland School District school board in Washington on Nov. 7, 2023. Three districts are up for regular election: Position 3, Position 4, and Position 5.

The district had approximately 14,100 students during the 2022-2023 school year and is located in Benton County, Washington.

Voters recalled three of the board’s five members on the same day as the board’s primary on Aug. 1, 2023. Kari Williams, one of the three members removed from office, is running in November for Position 4. Recall supporters said that the board members violated the Open Public Meetings Act; violated district policies, procedures, and code of ethics; and voted to make masks optional while a statewide mask requirement was in place. All three board members denied any wrongdoing. To learn more about the recall, click here.

The Washington Education Association PAC endorsed Chelsie Beck (Position 3), Katrina Waters (Position 4), and incumbent Jill Oldson (Position 5). WEA “recommends and helps to elect pro-public education, pro-labor candidates to office.” 

The Benton County Republican Party endorsed Nino Kapitula (Position 3) and Gene Nemeth (Position 5). 

Chelsie Beck and Nino Kapitula are running for Position 3. Beck is a chemist at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. She said, “My goal is to work with parents, students, and school staff to understand the needs of all students and work to support them. … I understand that there is a limited budget. In my job I have experience managing multi-million-dollar budgets.” Kapitula is the director for project development and design for Providence Land LLC. She said, “We should have the right to know what is being taught in the classroom, fully transparent about teaching and learning materials. … I will work to close the gap between parents and teachers to rebuild a broken trust.”

Katrina Waters and Kari Williams are running for Position 4. Waters is a laboratory fellow and chief scientist at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. She said, “…I have 25 years of experience working collaboratively with multidisciplinary teams and serving on federal advisory boards. I …. understand transparency and accountability. …” and “I will work to ensure that Richland School District meets the needs of all students and staff, ensure fiscal responsibility, lobby for sufficient funding and effective use of taxpayer money.” Williams previously worked as an elementary school teacher. She said she would “continue to champion her initiative to overcome COVID learning losses by prioritizing every child reading on grade level. … [and] support our community’s family values as she pushes the district to keep our classrooms a place where all children feel safe to learn and where the instruction is focused on teaching our children how to think — not what to think.”

Incumbent Jill Oldson and Gene Nemeth are running for Position 5. Oldson was elected to the board in 2018. She said, “I believe the parent/guardian has the ultimate say in their child’s education. … My core values include mental health, special education, academic success, transparency, accountability, fiscal responsibility, and local control.” Nemeth is the facility operations and maintenance group lead at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. He said he is “committed to … student achievement and special education, advocating for parent rights, implementing measurable goals, spending more time monitoring goals, increasing transparency and accountability … , listening to educators and what they need to succeed, ensuring all stakeholders, including students, are engaged in the plan to achieve excellence, and tying budget priorities to student outcomes.”