Bristol Bay students host debate

Sep 30, 2015

Most high school students can't vote yet, but the Bristol Bay Borough School American Government class hosted a debate for school board and assembly candidates.

American Government students organized a debate  for Bristol Bay Borough assembly and school board candidates, held Tuesday night. KDLG's Molly Dischner reports.

The students had a variety of questions prepared for the candidates Tuesday. Junior Rylie Lyon said she and her classmates came up with the questions, and also took submissions from the community.

“It wasn’t too difficult," Lyon said. "There’s a lot of things – they have big roles to fill in. There’s plenty to ask about either the assembly or the school board members.”

There are three candidates running for two seats on the borough assembly; incumbents Mary Swain and Carvel Zimin Jr., and Michael Gottschalk. Just Swain was able to attend, as the other candidates were out of town.

Swain said the borough is going to need revenue in the years to come, and that it’s important to put money into savings when it’s a good year for the fish tax. Students also asked her about a possible move of the police department and jail.

“I’m kind of torn. I don’t know if I fully agree that the police department needs to be moved. I think at this point we are good where we’re out. However, the building that we’rein is leased. And the airforce is trying to impose paying for fuel and electricity, and currently we don’t pay those, and to heat that building is going to take a lot of money and so fiscally I think it’s responsible to look at all options and until we’ve looked at all options I can’t say that absolutely we need to move or absolutely not we don’t.”

School board candidates Tanya Hansen and Michael Swain participated in that portion of the debate; Katie Copps-Wilson was out of town.

Both candidates say they like the district’s partnerships with Lake and Pen schools, and the opportunities provided for vocational education, but would oppose efforts to combine the two districts.

"I think with the current board that you have we are very much wanting to be the angels and only the angels," Hansen said.

As for a school vending machine? Another question they agreed on. Hansen and Swain both say they had them back when they were in school. But now it might depend on the contents, and, Swain said, federal nutrition rules.

Junior Austin King said none of the answers at Tuesday’s debate came as a surprise, but it was a learning experience for the students to organize it – and, he thinks, for the voters who attended.

"I think it is really valuable because the people in the community who didn't show up were most likely listening to the radio and relying on the forum that we did to put their vote," King said.