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District names four candidates for vacant Kent School Board seat

Joseph Bento, Russell Hanscom, Inal Tshovrebov and Thomas Williams

Four candidates will be interviewed Tuesday, Feb. 2 by the Kent School Board for the vacant seat on the five-member board.

The candidates for the District 1 position are Joseph Bento, Russell Hanscom, Inal Tshovrebov and Thomas Williams, according to a Tuesday, Jan. 26 email from Melissa Laramie, Kent School District director of communications and public affairs.

Leah Bowen resigned from the board in December. Bowen served one year as the District 1 director. Bowen, the mother of three children, resigned to spend more time with her family. Voters elected Bowen in November 2019 to a four-year term when she ran unopposed.

The public interviews have been rescheduled from Jan. 28 due to current board member availability, Laramie said. The special meeting on Feb. 2 will be livestreamed on the district’s YouTube channel. After the interviews, the board is expected to choose a candidate to fill the vacancy.

That person will be sworn in during the regular meeting at 7 p.m. on Feb. 10, and will serve until the next regularly scheduled school board election in November. The person also will be eligible to run for the seat. District 1 is roughly between Orillia Road and 116th Avenue Southeast (west to east) and from South/SE 192nd Street to South 240th Street (north to south).

The board reviewed applications during an executive session of a special meeting on Jan. 21. Three other people submitted applications but were not in District 1 boundaries and did not move forward for an interview, Laramie said.

Hanscom resigned from the District 1 seat in 2017 for personal reasons after he was elected to his second four-year term on the board in 2015. He ran for the Kent City Council in November 2017 but lost to incumbent Brenda Fincher.

The current board members are President Denise Daniels, Vice President Michelle Bettinger, Maya Vengadasalam and Leslie Hamada.

Voters elected Hamada and Bettinger in 2019 to the board. Daniels was elected in 2017 and her term expires in November. Vengadasalam was elected in 2013 and reelected in 2017. Her term expires in November.

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