There is a battle for a seat on the Anchorage School Board right now being waged with semantics as one candidate employs a tactic the other is calling misleading.
Driving around Anchorage one may have notice strategically placed signs stating in big, bold yellow words “Re-Elect Don Smith School Board.” It’s a simple declaration; however, it comes with semantically strategic connotations.
“I’m a former incumbent to the school board running for re-election,” said former board member Don Smith. “I have every right to say ‘re-elect,’ my opponent does not.”
Smith’s logic is slightly sound. Smith was once elected to the school board in 2012; he was also defeated in his 2013 re-election bid by Bettye Davis. It’s that specific fact that has Smith’s current opponent, Kameron Perez-Verdia, in disagreement with the one-time board member.
“He’s not on the school board, so he is not technically being re-elected,” Perez-Verdia said.
In a race Perez-Verdia has characterized as not receiving the media attention he feels it deserves, he says there is a certain irony Smith’s tactics create in a campaign surrounding Anchorage’s public education.
“Having listened to candidates try to create a narrative around themselves so people can get a sense of where they stand, they don’t always get the accurate data,” Perez-Verdia said.
Instead of focusing on semantics, Perez-Verdia hopes candidates recognize the tactic and focus more on the individual candidate and their stance on important issues like the nearly $23 million Anchorage School District budget shortfall, something his opponent would agree with.
Smith touts his time on the board in the past as successfully advancing the career and technical program, improving it without getting or requesting extra money. He called it an “effective school board.”
Perez-Verdia was appointed to his seat on the board, unlike Smith who was elected to a separate seat in 2012. It’s a point Perez-Verdia wanted to make clear.
“I hope people see (the sign) as a tactic,” Perez-Verdia said. “I hope people realize he is not on the school board and I am the incumbent.”