After months of campaigning, the races to determine the nine people who will next serve on the three metro school district boards are coming to a close.
Voters on Tuesday will decide who fills four seats for Eugene School District 4J, two seats for Springfield Public Schools and three seats for Bethel School District.
Ballots can still be mailed back but must be postmarked by today. At some mailboxes, the last pick-up for the day is as early as 2:30 p.m. Ballots can also be dropped in official drop boxes until 8 p.m. Find drop box locations at sos.oregon.gov/voting/pages/drop-box-locator.aspx.
The first round of preliminary results is expected to be released at about 8 p.m. These results typically include ballots received up to the day before. Another round of results, which typically include ballots received during the morning of election day, is released at 11 p.m.
More results will be released at 5 p.m. on May 17, 18, 23, 26 and June 7. On June 12, the county clerk with release the final official results.
Election results will be posted on lanecounty.org/elections and updated at RegisterGuard.com.
Eugene School District 4J
Eight candidates are vying for the four positions on the seven-member Eugene School District 4J board.
Retired teacher Tom Di Liberto and dentist Michael Bratland are running for position 1.
Former Monroe Middle teacher Di Liberto said his more than 30 years of in-classroom experience would bring a much-needed perspective to the board, aiming to highlight the voices of staff. He retired in 2018 but still volunteers in schools, substitutes and currently serves on the 4J Budget Subcommittee.
Bratland has five children, and the two youngest attend Sheldon High School. Bratland said he wants to see a return to a focus on fundamentals in school. He said he supports sex education, but it needs to be age-appropriate. He’d like to allow more opportunity for parent input on the board.
Read more: Meet 4J position 1 candidates Tom Di Liberto and Dr. Michael Bratland
University of Oregon professor and board incumbent Gordon Lafer and retired police officer Rick Hamilton are running for position 4.
Lafer, who was first elected in 2019, has one daughter, who attends South Eugene High. While on the board, he has supported free meals for all 4J students, free library cards for all students and free menstrual products in school bathrooms.
If elected, Hamilton said he would focus on students in special education, students of color and other marginalized populations, ensuring they are getting the support they need. He said he would also support CTE courses and a reevaluation of school safety systems.
Read more: Meet Eugene 4J position 4 candidates Gordon Lafer and Rick Hamilton
Lawyer Jenny Jonak and veteran Grant Johnson are running for position 5.
Jonak has four children, three of whom attend 4J schools. She said one of her children has various disabilities, and she has seen firsthand the difficulties parents of children with disabilities face at 4J in getting the support they need.
Air Force veteran Johnson has concerns about testing proficiency and graduation rates. He said if he was a business owner, he would be concerned about graduating seniors not being equipped to join the local workforce. He is troubled by the outcomes of the public school system “we’re paying for.”
Read more: Meet Eugene 4J position 5 candidates Jenny Jonak and Grant Johnson
Business owner Morgan Munro and Timothy Sean Sutherland, who works in insurance, are running for position 7.
Munro has two children in 4J. Munro is currently on the Lane County Charter Review Committee and serves as parent teacher association president at Adams Elementary. She works in strategy and organizational development, meaning she is familiar with analyzing data.
Sutherland has one son who formerly attended 4J schools, but was recently moved to Willamette Leadership Academy. Sutherland said the challenges his family faced finding resources for his son’s learning disability while at 4J contributed to his decision to run for office. He’d like to see more parent input at board meetings.
Read more: Meet Eugene 4J position 7 candidates Morgan Munro, Timothy Sean Sutherland
Springfield Public Schools
Five candidates are vying for the two open positions on the five-member Springfield Public Schools board.
Read more: Meet the candidates for Springfield Public Schools board of directors
Retired engineer Ken Kohl, caregiver Violet Olszyk and self-employed Geena Davis are running for position 1.
Kohl has been an active volunteer and has served on the district budget committee since 2006. He said he’d like to improve community engagement as well as engagement with students and staff. He’d also like to seek ways to boost graduation rates and literacy proficiency.
Olszyk has five children, two of whom attend Springfield schools. She is active in the parent teacher association at Mapleton. Her priorities include quality education and core subject proficiency, transparency, supporting staff and school safety.
Davis did not respond to The Register-Guard’s inquiries. Her filing states she attended Lane Community College where she earned her GED.
Heather Quaas-Annsa will also appear on the ballot. However, she has discontinued her campaign and is endorsing Kohl for the position.
Nonprofit worker Nicole De Graff and carpenter Anthony Reed are running for position 4.
De Graff works for Oregon Moms Union, a nonprofit that advocates for parental rights in schools and a student-first education system. She’d like to see schools “refocus on the basics” by helping students become proficient in reading and writing. Her children previously attended Springfield schools, but she has since enrolled them in a nearby public charter.
Reed has two sons in high school at Springfield. Reed said student safety is his number one concern. He also said he values public comment at board meetings, which he said provide the board insight into making the best decisions for the district.
Bethel School District
Seven candidates are vying for the three roles up for election on the seven-member Bethel School District board.
Read more: Meet the candidates for Bethel School District board of directors
Incumbent Greg Nelson, accounting supervisor Leena Earnest and teacher Curt Nordling are running for position 3.
Nelson, a research analyst at the UO’s Museum of Natural and Cultural History, has been serving on the Bethel board for 24 years. While on the board, Nelson said, he has helped push a focus on equity and inclusion in the district, as well as multiple capital improvement bonds.
Nordling has two children at Meadow View School. He is a math teacher at Willamette High, has two children who attend Meadow View School and also serves as vice president and lead negotiator for the local teachers’ union, the Eugene Education Association.
Earnest did not respond to The Register-Guard’s inquiries. According to Earnest’s campaign filing, she is currently a corporate and client trust accounting supervisor.
Eugene city employee Daniel (Drae) Charles and real estate agent Erin Basinger are running for position 4.
Longtime Bethel community member Basinger has four children, three of whom currently attend Bethel schools. She said she would like to focus on student mental health and finding ways to bring the community together.
Charles does not currently have any children in Bethel, but soon will. His oldest is 3 and beginning to engage in local youth programs. If elected, Charles would like to push for greater community partnerships, more organized support for educators and fostering student belonging in schools.
Incumbent Robin Zygaitis and financial licensing coach Scott Chatham are running for position 6.
Zygaitis, who works in technology, has two children enrolled in Bethel. She was first elected to the board in 2019 and has helped pass capital improvement bonds. If reelected, Zygaitis would push for an inclusive school environment, improved curriculum, support for teachers, increased health services, and more CTE courses.
Chatham did not respond to The Register-Guard’s inquiries. According to Chatham’s campaign filing, he works for Primerica Financial Services.
Miranda Cyr reports on education for The Register-Guard. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or find her on Twitter @mirandabcyr