May 17 is set aside this year for elections of school board members and ballot measures in Lane County. Information on the election can be found in the Voters Pamphlet or at www.lanecounty.org/elections or call 682-4234. Ballots can be mailed in by May 12 or dropped off at white ballot boxes around town until 8 pm May 17.
Below are our endorsements for Eugene ballot measures and selected contested races.
LCC Director,Position 6 at-large ã Rosie Pryor
Rosie Pryor has earned this position, demonstrating a longtime commitment to community colleges. Her father was the first president of Clatsop Community College in Astoria, her son is enrolled in LCC.Dr. Roger Hall, retiring after 20 years on the board, leads the list of endorsers on her website.Her public relations skills will be welcome in these daring expansion days for LCC.
LCC Director,Position 7 at-large ã Tony McCown
Tony McCown is the dynamic young chair of the LCC Board and hes on a roll. We see no reason to replace him, though his opponent Doug Nelson is also a good candidate. McCown was elected to the Zone 2 position four years ago and is now seeking an at-large post while longtime board member Robert Ackerman is leaving Position 7 and running unopposed for Zone 2. Its complicated. But McCown is uniquely qualified as an LCC success story. He went on to the UO to study for his masters in public administration, while working as an urban planner and serving in leadership roles on various boards and committees.
Eugene 4J School Board,Position 1 ã Alicia Hays
Incumbent Alicia Hays, the director of the Lane County Department of Children and Families, has decades of experience working for children, human rights, inclusion and equity. Shes a clear choice for the School Board. We only wish she would use her strong qualifications to provide a clearer, stronger and more vocal voice on an opaque school board more prone to Kremlin-like mumblings during meetings than clear and open debate of contentious issues. Hays opponent Gary Carpenter, a Fern Ridge School District principal, has a good point that school board members shouldnt just sit and listen and then raise their hands to vote. But Carpenter lacks Hays experience and teachers association endorsement and has given only weak support for the school funding measure. The third candidate in the race, contractor Greg Stallings has huge contributions from conservatives, no comparable experience serving kids and opposes the school funding effort.
Eugene 4J School Board,Position 4 ã Craig A. Smith
Its tempting to cast a protest vote against Craig Smith, the business lawyer chair of the School Board, but we support him. The board has stumbled at times in dealing with the school funding measure, the superintendents divisive school closure strategy, and the pay rate for the new superintendent. But Smith has proven himself valuable in Salem by providing a conservative business voice lobbying for more education funding, and he has gained a great depth of knowledge serving on the board for the past 16 years. He supports the income tax as a short-term fix, but also recognizes that the long-term solution has to come from the state. The Eugene Education Association declined to make an endorsement in this race, but voters have to choose. Smiths most credible opponent in this race is Natasha Hennings, who supports school funding and has experience as a 4J parent, but doesnt fully understand the equity issues with school choice, and she lacks Smiths experience. Hennings should immerse herself in the 4J Budget Committee and run again. Tea Partier Mark Callahan thinks schools have plenty of money, and offers ideas that make no sense, such as eliminating the superintendent position and all executive sessions, apparently even those dealing with confidential legal and personnel matters. Linda Hamilton, a county parole and probation officer, is well-spoken and could provide valuable experience in helping troubled and diverse youth, but she also opposes the school funding measure.
Eugene 4J School Board,Position 7 ã Mary Walston
Mary Walston, a manager with United Way with decades of government experience, is the clear choice in this race. Walston supports the funding measure to save kids from crowded classrooms and cut school days. Salesperson Sherry Callahan (Mark Callahans wife) opposes the school funding effort and bashes teachers. Matt Ginsberg, a computer scientist, opposes school funding, bashes teachers and opposes 4J efforts to close the minority achievement gap. Like other incumbents, we do hope Walston will be more open and outspoken at meetings and make school closures more equitable.
Bethel School Board,Position 4 ã Todd Lipkin
Two good candidates have filed in this open race to replace Wayne Watkins, who has served on the board since 1979. We have always appreciated the public service of EWEB Commissioner Rich Cunningham, who has served on the Bethel Budget Committee for the past year, but we give LTDs Finance Manager Todd Lipkin the edge in this race, based on his track record of leadership and high level of volunteering in the district. Lipkin was one of the founders of the Bethel Education Foundation. Hes endorsed by both Stand for Children and the Eugene Education Association.
Ballot Measure 20-182 ãTemporary city income tax for schools ã YES
This four-year, modest ($120 a year on average) tax is by far the most important thing on the ballot. Without the school funding measure, 100 teachers could lose their jobs and 4J and Bethel kids could suffer classrooms packed with more than 50 kids and school weeks cut to four days. The cuts could also strike a heavy blow to local jobs by making Eugene less desirable for businesses, an independent ECONorthwest study found. Mean-spirited kid and teacher bashers have desperately thrown every distortion and outright lie they can at this measure in an effort to defeat it. All the opponent arguments could apply to any government tax. The taxes for jails and potholes that conservatives back all involve imperfect PERS benefits and even more imperfect tax collection systems. The difference here simply comes down to the sad fact that opponents value prisons and asphalt more than innocent children. We dont, and neither should the people of Eugene.
Ballot Measure 20-183 ãGeneral obligation bonds for 4J school facilities ã YES
The school board shouldnt have put this $70 million measure on the ballot this election. Too many people dont understand that this property tax measure, unlike the 20-182 income tax funding, wont keep schools open, it will just repair the buildings, and put stuff in them. Even a gleaming new school building with the best equipment is useless unless there is funding for teachers to keep it open. Thats what the income tax does, not this bond measure. Under our states wacky tax laws, the School District can raise taxes for school buildings but not to actually keep them open. Were skeptical that the district would actually lose the $15 million in federal funding if it were not on the ballot now. Even if thats true, the district could have gone with a $15 million measure that could have secured the match without making the operating measure harder to pass. That said, we wont take out our frustration with the board decision on kids trying to learn in 4Js ramshackle buildings. Roofing, plumbing, heating, seismic safety, technology improvements and new classroom configurations for kids are clearly needed. If you absolutely have to choose, though, the income tax Measure 20-182s funding to actually run the schools is clearly more important.