Chehalis Education Activist, Parent Announces Bid for School Board


Kelsi Hamilton, a vocal parent and education activist who helped lead the drive last year to reopen Lewis County’s public schools to in-person instruction, is running for a seat on the Chehalis School Board.

The 2002 W.F. West graduate announced her decision last month on Facebook. Hamilton, 37, said she’s running to fill the District No. 3 seat currently occupied by Vicki Daniels, a retired educator who has served since 2009.

Hamilton said she’s running to provide a choice to voters and hopes to be a solutions-based, transparent director if elected. She currently has three daughters attending classes in the Chehalis School District system.

“None of our current board members have children that attend our schools,” she said in a statement. “It’s a very different world now for our kids and families with technology and COVID, just to name a few. I understand what parents and families are going through because I am experiencing it with them.”

A frequent volunteer within the school district who helped launch the Watch D.O.G.S. (Dads of Great Students) program, Hamilton is currently serving her second year within a mentorship program at W.F. West High School. She works as a compliance director at Dynamic Collectors Inc., a Chehalis-based collections firm, and is a legislative chair for the Washington Collectors Association.

Last year, she helped organize and lead multiple protests against the school district’s distanced learning model, which were put in place due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. That advocacy helped return students to the physical class in November and, she says, quicker than other districts of similar size.

Hamilton was also a vocal critic of Senate Bill 5395, the comprehensive sex education legislation passed during the 2020 legislative session. She helped collect signatures to bring the bill to a referendum of the voters, though it was ultimately approved.

She’s also been a supporter of past district ballot initiatives.

Hamilton’s last name also might sound familiar. Her homesteading family has been involved in greater Lewis County happenings for multiple generations.

Speaking with The Chronicle this week, Hamilton said her decision to throw her hat into the ring this year didn’t come suddenly. As the year-long pandemic restricted education, and as progressive-education legislation bore down on smaller school districts, she considered the seat as an option to further her advocacy of education on the local level.

“For me, it’s how do we take local control and fit it with the laws of what the Legislature are, but also meeting standards for education where parents can still feel comfortable sending their kids to school,” Hamilton said.

State Senate Minority Leader and 20th Legislative District Sen. John Braun, R-Centralia, has endorsed Hamilton’s candidacy.

Aside from Daniels’ seat, there are two others on the Chehalis School Board up for reelection this November. There is no filing fee to register.

Filing week for public office starts Monday, May 17. The top two candidates in the August primary will move on to the November general election.