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The Skanner News Editorial Board
Published: 07 May 2015

The May 19, 2015, Multnomah County Special Election is all about education, with candidates running for school boards, the Multnomah Education Service District, and the Portland Community College Board.

While some voters might think these positions are not as important as city councils, state legislatures, and Congress, it is local school boards that shape the future of our communities because they have such an impact on the pipeline of leadership for our future governance.

The recent conflict over pay raises for top administrators at Portland Public Schools, as well as upheaval at the MESD – and the fact that so many incumbents for both are leaving their posts rather than try for re-election -- means this ballot could have a long-range impact on Portland K-12 schools.

Ballots are already out. Look for yours, and weigh in on these important issues.

The Skanner News endorses:

For Portland Public Schools Board

Position 1, Julie Esparza Brown. A professor at Portland State University with expertise in special education, Brown is also a third-generation Chicana and expert on multiculturalism. She is endorsed by a long list of city and civic leaders, as well as the Portland Association of Teachers PAC, and the nonprofit education advocates Stand for Children.

Position 2, José Gonzalez. While he has not spent his career as a professional school teacher, Gonzalez is the perfect example of a citizen board member who would use his experience in the nonprofit arts world to inform the decisions made at the top of Portland schools. He is organized, he has a vision that dovetails with the ways our community demographics are changing, and his wide-ranging endorsements reflect that: Gonzalez is supported by parents, lawmakers, movers and shakers in our local community who hail from all over the world.

Position 3, Bobbie Regan. This is perhaps our most controversial endorsement. Regan has been on the board already for years, and those years have included some votes that we have disagreed with. But at the same time we see Regan’s passion about this nonpaid – and largely thankless – position. With new blood coming to the board, we believe Regan might prove the perfect complement to an influx of new ideas there.

Multnomah Education Service District

Position 6 Stephen Marc Beaudoin. Over the years we have watched Beaudoin evolve from an alternative newspaper reporter to a leader in arts education for people with disabilities. He is the perfect choice to help build the troubled MESD into a top-notch education agency.

Position 7 Siobhan Burke. Burke bills herself as a mom, but her skills are wide ranging and geared towards the future. With roots in labor union organizing and grassroots campaigning, Burke’s current day job is in providing special education services for children. She has a grasp of how the system works from the bigwigs down to the little kids.

Portland Community College Board of Directors

Director Zone 2 Kali Thorne Ladd. As the incumbent candidate, and running unopposed, we do not need to endorse Ladd. But of all of the community leaders in our region, few individuals are as capable of laying out an educational vision for our children's future, and then actually taking the time to build that vision out. Her ability to connect the dots makes Ladd a leader to watch.

Director Zone 3 Michael Sonnleitner. The candidate is a full-time teacher at the community college -- so his many years there have given him experience and knowledge for the position. He is endorsed by other rank and file PCC employees, as well as a handful of past presidents including former PCC Cascade President Algie Gatewood. We can't wait to see what it will happen when he gets on the board.

Voted ballots for the May 19 special must be received by 8 p.m., May 19. For more information about the election, go to www.mcelections.org.

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