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Henden defeats Torrens for North Kitsap School Board, District 4

Scott Henden - Herald file photo
Scott Henden
— image credit: Herald file photo

POULSBO — Businessman Scott Henden defeated Val Torrens Tuesday for North Kitsap School Board District 4. 

With 9,158 ballots counted Tuesday, Henden received 4,936 votes to Torrens' 4,160.

The ballot count will change Wednesday. Kitsap County Elections Manager Dolores Gilmore gave this rundown Tuesday of ballots received as of Monday evening.

— Countywide: 47,955 of 146,593 ballots mailed.

— North Kitsap School District: 10,465 of 28,789.

— Poulsbo city: 1,838 of 5,165.

— Poulsbo Port District: 1,566 of 4,238.

— Kingston Port District, 1,558 of 4,073.

That’s not counting the 10,000 countywide ballots received in Tuesday’s mail, nor the ballots received from drop boxes. In addition, Gilmore expects to receive on Wednesday ballots postmarked on Election Day.

The win was a sweet one for Henden, who previously ran unsuccessfully for county commission and fire commission.

"It says people are ready to think about getting away from the status quo," Henden said.

Henden was not endorsed by any office holders or media outlet or teachers’ union. He sent out a limited number of fliers through the community and added to his political signage with illustrations of pencils. He did not do any "doorbelling," but did have a presence at Port Gamble’s Old Mill Days.

Henden said his campaign has been an eye-opener for him. He better understands how the district operates and what is going on. He said he will continue to seek community input, along with information from school staff, to help him better understand the position.

He appreciates the people who supported him.

"This can be a lonely thing," Henden said of campaigning for an elected position. "I'm not crying on anyone's shoulder, but it can be hard."

School board members are elected for four-year terms. The board is responsible for adopting and revising the district's budget, hiring and evaluating the superintendent, establishing policy and keeping the public informed on the needs and progress of education in the state.

Torrens, the board’s president, said since beginning the campaign, the same issues — budget, superintendent — continued to arise. She received "a lot of positive feedback," including supporters who carried campaign signs along the side of roads.

After four years of serving on the board, Torrens said she has a deeper appreciation for digging into district issues. As she became more tenured in her position on the board, she said she better understands the ramifications for each decision the board makes.

Sometimes, she said, the board needs to table a vote in order to understand what it is voting on. It takes time to know when that is necessary and when it's wasting time, she said.

"I wouldn't say (the board makes) faster decisions, but I would say more well considered, better thought-out decisions."

Henden said the board needs to ask more questions. Recently, principals from Brazil visited the district — Henden cited this as an example. He said the cost to the district and how much staff time was taken for the visit should have been considered before it took place.

"I don't want to be a killjoy, but these are the questions we need to ask," he said.

Henden was criticized for saying that, if it came down to it, he would not support art as a main form of education. However, he said he tried to be clear where he and Torrens differed — he doesn't believe Torrens was clear on where she stood and what she believes.

Torrens said no matter what happened in the campaign, one critical aspect of the board was looking at district revenue and expenditures. The superintendent search, which is under way, will continue to be a top concern as well.

In reflecting on her campaign, Torrens said she did not know what she would do differently.

Will she run again?

"You'd have to ask me that three-and-a-half years from now," she said. "I don't project that far into the future and a lot of things can happen between now and then."

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