Davis, Smith Compete for School Board
Candidates clash over new superintendent, public funding for private, religious schools
ANCHORAGE - Two failed candidates in last year's state Senate races are now facing each other for a seat on the school board.
Incumbent school board member Don Smith has been serving in a variety of government positions for decades.
"I'm the father of the tax cap, 30 years ago. I wrote the language that is in the charter today, which has saved all of us in this room thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars of tax that would have been paid had it not been for the lid that was placed."
Bettye Davis has been around for decades, as well, most recently leaving the Senate after 12 years.
She said in her case, it's not only experience that matters, but also demographics.
"You have 50,000 students in the Anchorage School District, almost. Out of those 50,000 students, I think they deserve to have someone to represent them other than all Caucasians."
Smith and Davis differ on a proposed amendment to the state constitution to permit public funding of private and religious schools.
Davis is an adamant opponent, while Smith offers qualified support.
"If there were no religious instruction being given in a Baptist school or a Catholic school, it was strictly education, those children, I think, have every right to have those dollars that are spent in the public system be spent on their education. So I’m not opposed to it, but it has to be clearly defined, I think."
Davis faults the school board for its swift permanent appointment of Ed Graff as the new superintendent, following Jim Browder's surprise retirement.
"I felt that once they got together like that that they really should have put somebody in that position but it should have been appointed as acting and not as the superintendent."
For school board Seat A, voters will do the grading on April 2.
In November, Smith was defeated for a Midtown Senate seat by then-Representative Berta Gardner, and Davis lost her race in East Anchorage and Eagle River to then-Representative Anna Fairclough.
To view all of the candidates in the April 2 municipal election, click here.