The dust has settled from the November 2012 elections and we’re all settling in for a long, politics-free respite.
The hottest issue on the ballot is the water fluoridation vote, with both sides currently gearing up for what promises to be a bruising battle.
But one issue that won’t make the papers quite so much –but should –is the potential impact of this May’s election on the future of education in our area.
The May election will give the voters a chance to remake both of our local School Boards (Portland and David Douglas), both our local Community College Boards (Portland and Mount Hood Community Colleges) and our local Education Service District.
Unfortunately the opportunity to reshape K-14 education in Portland seems to be garnering a big collective yawn, at least so far. Despite the importance of education, contested races for local school boards are hard to find.
The deadline to apply for the ballot is March 21, so we could still see additional candidates emerge –perhaps even someone from the Foster Road area? –but right now, here is a snapshot of what’s happening.
Portland Public Schools
The Portland School Board is made up of seven seats, allocated by geographic Zones, three of which are up for election this May, including our local Zone 6 (see map). (PPS Board member Greg Belisle represents Zone 7, which includes most of the area south of Foster Road. He still has two years remaining on his current term.)
Although candidates must reside in the Zone from which they are elected, PPS voters cast ballots for all seats district-wide. That means the Zone 6 position is open to residents of the Foster area, but when ballots arrive in May, Fosterites will be able to vote in all three open PPS Board races.
There are currently two candidates for Zone 6, Consuelo Saragoza and Tom Koehler. In what may be the only contested race on our ballot, Saragoza and Koehler are competing to replace incumbent Trudy Sargent, who is not running for re-election.
Ms. Saragoza is the former Executive Director of the Oregon Council for Hispanic Advancement. She works for the Multnomah County Health Department and currently serves on the Tri-Met Board. Mr. Koehler is a former Corvallis City Councilmember and currently runs a small business. Both Saragoza and Koehler are residents of the Mount Tabor neighborhood.
The other two seats on the PPS Board up for election are those currently held by Martin Gonzales and Pam Knowles (Zones 4 and 5, respectively). Both Gonzales and Knowles are running for re-election and thus far have no challengers.
The Franklin High School PTSA and The Cleveland High School PTA are co-sponsoring a forum for PPS board candidates on April 10 at 7pm in the Franklin Gym. The public is invited.
David Douglas School District
Big changes could be in store for the David Douglas School Board, where 5 of seven seats are up for grabs this year. These Board seats are not geographically-restricted and each is elected district-wide, so all David Douglas voters are eligible to run for and to vote in all the available positions.
In Position 5, Kyle Riggs was appointed last year following the resignation of Mike Price. Riggs is now running to hold the position for the remaining two years of Price’s term. Mr. Riggs is a Vice President at Just Sports and lives in the Powellhurst-Gilbert neighborhood.
Elections in the other four positions (1, 2, 3 and 6) are for full four-year terms.
In positions 1 and 2, the incumbents are asking voters to return them for new terms. Cheryl Scarcelli Ancheta (position 1) was first elected in 2009 and works for Providence Health Plans. Donn Gardner (position 2) is a retired construction contractor who has served on the Board since 1993(!). Both live in the Pleasant Valley neighborhood.
In position 3, where Dawn Barberis is stepping down after 15 years, Krista Dennis is running for her first elective office. She’s the owner of Global Minerals, where she sells rocks, minerals and beads. Position 6 is currently held by Annette Mattson, who is stepping down after 4-1/2 terms. Shannon Reybold is a homemaker and former teacher running to replace her. Both Dennis and Reybold live in the Pleasant Valley neighborhood.
As of today, all five David Douglas School Board candidates are running unopposed.
Mount Hood Community College
Mount Hood Community College educates 33,000 students per year in East Portland, East Multnomah County and parts of Clackamas and Mount Hood counties. The college is run by a seven-member Board, which includes 2 Directors elected at-large and five elected by geographic zone. Zones 1, 2 and 4 as well as one at-large seat (“Position 7″) are up for election this year. Voters will cast ballots in the Zone in which they live plus the at-large race.
Zone 1, which includes parts of Gresham and East County, will have a contested race between Susie Jones and Sharon Barker, both of whom would be new to the Board.
Candidates have also filed to run for Zone 2 and the at-large Position 7 (James Zordich and Paul Capell, respectively). Capell is a former Mayor of Prineville and current MHCC Board member who was appointed to his seat last Fall. Zordich is a newcomer to elective office.
Sadly, no candidate has yet filed for the Foster-area Zone 4 (see map), which includes portions of the Lents and Powellhurst-Gilbert neighborhoods.
Portland Community College
PCC serves a massive student body, offering college coursework at three Campuses and seven Centers, including one here in southeast. They’ve been in growth mode lately, as demand for job skills at a reasonable cost has skyrocketed.
That’s especially true at their SE Center at Division and 82nd, which is currently expanding its facilities with funding approved by the voters in 2008.
The PCC Board is made up of seven members, elected by zone. Five of those seats are up for election this time out –though that doesn’t include Zone 3, which includes the Foster area and large parts of SE, NE and SW Portland. Elsewhere in the region, though, there will be at least two contested races –so things could heat up somewhat, just not for us.
Multnomah Education Service District
The MESD doesn’t get a lot of attention, but its programs are critically important. In essence, the MESD handles lots of support services for all the school districts in Multnomah County –things that can be better done spread across multiple districts rather than done by the districts themselves.
This includes delivering healthcare services to students, managing the batteries of federally-required tests, supporting special ed programs, providing centralized business support, running programs that help at-risk students, and providing educational services for local teens in the criminal justice system.
The MESD is governed by a seven-member board. Five members are elected from geographic zones, with the other two elected at-large. Seats representing Zones 2, 4 and 5 are up for election this time, as is one at-large seat (“position 2″).
There is one candidate currently declared for the at-large position, Nels Johnson, an adjunct Professor at Warner Pacific College who lives in the Rose City Park neighborhood.
As we go to press, there are no candidates filed to run for the three Zone representatives, including Zone 4, which includes most of Portland East of 82nd Avenue.
Measure 26-150 is an extension of the local Children’s Levy, which was created by the voters in 2002 and has been renewed by them once since then. The levy assesses a property tax of $0.4026 per $1,000 assessed valuation. These tax dollars support a long list of programs for kids, including early childhood education, abuse prevention, after-school tutoring and health screenings, and educational help for foster children. More info on the program is here.
Metro has also referred a measure (#26-152) to assess a new property tax levy to support parks and natural areas. More info is here.
Last but not least, there is a citizen referendum (#26-151) to decide the fate of the Portland City Council’s decision to fluoridate our water. This one is either a benign and long-overdue effort by concerned citizens to address dental health in young people, or it’s a dastardly plot to foist poison on a naive public. There appears to be no in-between, and both side have their dueling experts. Supporters of fluoride are organized under as Healthy Kids, Healthy Portland. Opponents have formed the umbrella group Clean Water Portland. Both sites have plenty of ammunition supporting their side of the argument.
Democracy is not a spectator sport! Foster United encourages any interested citizen to consider running for one of these important positions. The deadline to get on the ballot is March 21 and it only takes a simple form to file.
More information is here.
Updates (Mar 25, 2013):
Friday’s filing deadline has come and gone, so we now know the names that will appear on May’s ballot.
• Portland Public Schools: In our local PPS Zone 6, what was shaping up as a competitive race probably will not be after all.
Following the death of her father, Consuelo Saragoza has dropped out of the race.
Another candidate has filed, however. David Morrison is best known for his lawsuit to force PPS to remove all Wi-Fi from the schools.
Morrison will face Tom Koehler for the Zone 6 seat, but according to the Oregonian he does not expect to actively campaign.
There will still be one contested School Board seat in May, however. In North/Northeast Portland’s Zone 4, incumbent Martin Gonzales got a last-minute challenger: former School Board member Steve Buel. (PPS residents can vote in all Zones, regardless of where they live.)
• David Douglas: Last-minute filers have entered two of the five David Douglas Board seat races.
Donn Gardner (position 2), Kyle Riggs (position 5), and Shannon Reybold (position 6) will all be the only names to appear on the ballot for their respective seats.
In Position 1, however, Cheryl Scarcelli Archetta drew a late challenger in Johnny Walker, a financial planner.
In Position 3, two late filers have created a three-way race. Candidate Krista Dennis will be joined by Robert Zeller, General Manager of Thermal Coatings International, Inc., and Christine Larsen, a Project Coordinator at OHSU and current member of the David Douglas Budget Committee.
• Mount Hood Community College: Last week, it looked as if MHCC’s Foster-area Zone 4 would have no candidates on the ballot. But Powellhurst-Gilbert’s George (Sonny) Yellott, a truck driver and casino worker, has stepped up to run.
• Multnomah Education Service District: At the MESD, Foster-area voters will be casting ballots in one at-large race (“Position 2″) and in Zone 4, which encompasses all of Portland East of 82nd Ave.
North Portland’s Patrick Lasswell has filed to run against Nels Johnson for the Position 2 seat.
In Zone 4, which had no candidate a week ago, Francisco (Frank) Acosta has filed to run.