Washington state school director who bucked masking announces candidacy for governor

(The Center Square) – A Richland school board director fighting a recall effort has announced his candidacy for the 2024 Washington gubernatorial race.

If elected, Misipati “Semi” Bird, who distinguishes himself as a “constitutional Christian conservative” would become the first Black governor in the state, and the first Republican to take the top leadership seat since 1981.

“The people of this great state are eager for accountability in its leadership, to help bring about positive change for all,” said Bird in his announcement speech at the Legislative Building in Olympia on Veterans Day. “We are not just stronger, but far more effective, when we work together as Washingtonians to create actionable solutions.”

Bird said his military service, spirituality and a background of building teams to overcome challenges has prepared him to lead the state.

“Our service to this great nation has no expiration date and we must continue to honor our oath to protect and defend the constitution of the United States of America because this is a great nation,” he said Nov. 11.

Bird and two other school board members, Kari Williams and Audra Byrd, came under fire in February for defying statewide mask mandates by making facial coverings optional in Richland schools. The district then canceled classes for two days so administrators could figure out how best to accommodate the controversial board directive.

The district reversed the removal of masks within days of being threatened with a loss of state funding for noncompliance.

Four community members then mounted a grassroots effort to recall the board members who defied Gov. Jay Inslee’s mask mandate. They said the elected officials had violated state law and multiple district ethics and policies with their vote.

On his campaign website, birdforgovernor.com, Bird said his life journey began “in the ghetto of East Oakland, California.” He was born to a single mother of seven children who believed firmly that people should rise above outside circumstances to take control of their own destiny.

Although he struggled in school, dropping out of high school after his junior year, Bird enlisted in the Marine Corps and eventually transitioned to the Army where he became a Special Forces “Green Beret.” He spent 23 years in the military, earning two of the nation’s highest awards for heroism, a Bronze Star with a “V” device for Valor, and the Purple Heart.

Bird earned his first graduate degree from Villanova University, where he studied Human Resource Development. He is currently pursuing his doctorate in Organizational Psychology. He holds six specialized certifications and is an Executive in Residence at Washington State University in Tri Cities.

Through his international work, Bird has become a subject matter expert in organizational and professional development.

Bird now wants to those skills to work for Washington. He seeks to restore public trust in governance by holding officials accountable to the citizens they serve.

Toward that end, Bird would like to initiative a third-party government-wide audit and assessment of all state offices and programs. He wants to provide the public with transparency about how government is performing and promote fiscally responsible plans to maximize performance.

If elected, his goal is to provide citizens with tax relief, and restore the rule of law by fully funding law enforcement and tackling mental health and addiction issues that contribute to crime.

Also high on his campaign platform is prioritizing the land and water rights of farmers so they are not hindered by bureaucratic red tape in growing the state and nation’s food.

Bird wants to give parents more choice about how to educate their child, whether it be charter, private or public schools.