It’s school board election season, and board positions are opening up at Lane Community College and Eugene School District 4J. Two candidates, one for LCC and one for 4J, are ready to fill soon-to-be-empty spots, running on platforms of affordability, equity, transparency and more.
Phil Carrasco, an active member of the Latino community and coordinator of the Young Fathers’ Program for Catholic Community Services of Lane County, says he plans to run for the LCC Board of Education representing Zone 5 (south and downtown Eugene). The LCC Board of Education is responsible for setting policies at LCC and for adopting the college’s annual budget.
Carrasco says his platforms are affordability, acceptance and accountability.
“I think within the Latino, African-American, Pacific Islander and LGBTQ communities, there needs to be broader representation,” says Carrasco, who cofounded Grupo Latino de Accion Directa, a group that seeks to increase Latino participation in local politics.
“My motivation [for running] partly comes from the great experience I had at LCC with the faculty, and it pushes me to ensure that the faculty there has a fair stake, but I also want to make sure that the students are well represented for diversity issues.”
Carrasco says he’s also interested in making college affordable. “We need to be very exigent of our Legislature that we need this money and that it should be set aside for our future labor force,” he says. “Our region could really take off soon, and key to that is that we invest in our community colleges.”
On the K-12 education front, Eileen Nittler is looking to fill Craig Smith’s spot on the 4J School Board. Smith will not run for reelection.
“I feel I have what is missing on the board,” says Nittler, a social worker for Holt International Children’s Services. “I’ve volunteered extensively throughout the years with 4J, and what I’ve found is that the district has become less transparent, and that has caused a real lack of credibility in what they’re doing.”
She says that, as a social worker, her skills of listening and explaining could help the board bring issues to the front and “shift the culture of the board to open communication.”
Nittler says 4J Superintendent Sheldon Berman’s purchase of CPM math curriculum is an example of how the district needs to improve its ability to communicate with its stakeholders.
“I’m excited to have a new superintendent coming on and starting a new path,” Nittler says, adding that she’d like to reexamine 4J’s shared values and boost its focus on equity.
Both candidates run unopposed as of press time. The deadline for filing as a candidate for both boards is March 19, and the election is May 19.