Siuslaw News Voter Guide — Lane Education Service District


May 18, 2021, Special Election

This Siuslaw News Voter Guide includes information on each of the races in the May 18 Special Election. This guide provides a description of the boards and the names of those running for positions on western Lane County’s boards and commissions.

While many of the candidates are running unopposed, three districts have contested races. The Siuslaw News invited the candidates from these three — Lane Community College Board of Education, Lane Education Service District Board of Directors and the Siuslaw School District Board of Directors — to answer questions and give more information. This is an opportunity for voters to read about the backgrounds and beliefs of people who will shape the community for the next four years.

Voters in Lane County will begin to receive their ballots this week. Completed ballots can then be mailed to Lane County Elections, 275 W 10th Ave., Eugene OR 97401, or dropped off at the Lane County Elections official ballot drop box at the Florence Municipal Court, 900 Greenwood St. in Florence, by 8 p.m. on Election Day, Tuesday, May 18.

Information included in this guide came from lanecounty.org/elections and the candidates and their campaigns. Our thanks to the candidates who provided this information to readers in the Siuslaw region.

This guide will be available to view at TheSiuslawNews.com.

 

Disclaimer: Siuslaw News is not endorsing any candidate or measure included in its election coverage. Any views or opinions stated are exclusively those of the individuals themselves. Siuslaw News cannot be held responsible for the accuracy or reliability of information submitted by the individuals.

 

LESD

 

Lane Education Service District

Lane ESD, an educational service agency in Eugene, Ore., provides services to Lane County’s 16 school districts. Services are outlined in Lane ESD’s Local Service Plan, which is developed in collaboration with school districts and approved annually by every Lane County school board.

Lane ESD is governed by a citizen-elected board of directors and an appointed advisor. Five of the board positions represent geographical zones and two are designated at-large. All members serve four-year terms.

Find out more at www.lesd.k12.or.us.

In this special election, Position 6, At-Large, is contested, with Rich Cunningham running against incumbent Rose Wilde.

The Siuslaw News reached out to both candidates, but only received answers to our questions from Wilde.

 

— Cunningham —

Rich Cunningham is a retired insurance broker and agency manager, with a background as a manager in sales, finance and insurance. He has also been a high school and youth softball coach and a high school baseball coach.

He graduated from Roger Williams University with a BS in Business Administration. He has also done a course study at Lane Community College.

Cunningham has previous governmental experience. This includes:

  • Bethel School Board: 2011 to present (elected)
  • EWEB Commissioner: 2008-12 (elected)
  • Bethel School District Budget Committee: 2007 to present (appointed)
  • Lane ESD Budget Committee: 2015 to present (appointed)
  • Lane County Fair Board: 2019 to present (appointed)

In his candidate statement, Cunningham wrote, “Working together, I believe Measure 98 (Career and Technical Education) can be better achieved if we can make the Lane ESD a more central figure in the delivery of services for kids that choose this path. Most of our larger high schools have many of the Career and Technical vocations available. However, our smaller high schools in Lane County need help achieving compliance. Why not take all of these programs and make them available to all of the county’s schools? Working together, we could achieve a delivery of these programs that would be a model for all of Oregon.”

Cunningham is endorsed by Lane County Commissioner Pat Farr and Oregon State Sen. James Manning.

 

— Wilde —

Rose Wilde, MPH, has served on the board of directors of Lane ESD since 2013, and has served as vice chair and chair. Her peers on local school boards elected her twice to serve as the regional representative to the Legislative Committee of the Oregon School Boards Association, helping to make and pass education policies to improve the experiences of students in our schools.

Wilde is currently the chair of the Oregon Association of Education Service Districts. She led efforts to adopt a new equity and racial justice position statement statewide, and is working with Lane ESD to create a local statement that reflects our regional diversity and values.

Wilde has a master’s degree in Public Health from Oregon State University and current serves as a volunteer and community organizer to promote equity and justice in her community. Prior to the pandemic, she volunteered in her local elementary schools and in Bethel and South Lane School Districts. Her professional work includes social services, public health and community education, and she has worked in local government, educational, and non-profit organizations for 20 years serving the Lane County community.

(Note: The following questions were given to both candidates. Only Wilde responded to our request.)

 

  1. What would you identify as the opportunities and limitations of this position?

There is an immense opportunity to support all the students in Lane County to successful graduation and preparation for college and careers.

An area of emphasis is expanding career and technical education so that students from all parts of the county can access hands-on learning in career connected courses that encourage practical application of academic learning.

Students can prepare to enter a career right after graduation, or pursue further education and certifications, through CTE programs.

Lane ESD is also deeply engaged in recruiting and retaining the most diverse and qualified educators, and as a board member I will be working to assure that our employees have a welcoming and supportive work environment that honors and celebrates all of our cultures and histories. Educator diversity is a challenge because Oregon schools have not been able to recruit and retain educators with cultural and linguistic diversity to match the diversity of the students we serve — so we must invest in new strategies to welcome and support all our educators.

 

  1. If elected, what do you see as your most important objectives for the upcoming term?

My three objectives include:

1) Expanding career and technical opportunities and courses to all 16 school districts

2) Promote educator diversity through Lane ESD’s “Grow Your Own” educator pathway for high school students and by adopting a new equity policy and initiative in Lane ESD

3) Close opportunity gaps for our students by continuing to invest in culturally sustaining curriculum and teaching practices, empowering students through our student success efforts, and continuing to expand opportunities for college courses for high school students

 

  1. What do you anticipate being the biggest challenges?

The pandemic remains the biggest challenge for all of us, and the impact of the pandemic has not been equally shared. Poor, working families, families of color and families with essential workers and multi-generational homes have suffered enormous losses in family members, income and education. Supporting the recovery of lost learning opportunities and addressing the trauma and loss among our students will be priorities for some years to come.

 

  1. What do you identify as unique concerns to your district and how would you address those issues?

Lane ESD is a regional school district that serves all 16 school districts, so our scope is very broad and vast. Our challenge is to continue to offer support to each school district in a way that honors their local culture and traditions, while cobbling together regional programs that provide greater opportunities for all students.

Tailoring our services to fit each school district, while leveraging the benefits of collaboration and the economies of scale, is a balancing act that requires constant communication between our boards, staff and community partners.

As a board member, I will work with Lane ESD to provide opportunities for regional conversations between school districts to identify our common goals and issues, and share strategies for addressing common concerns, such as engage students with diverse backgrounds in college coursework or CTE opportunities, as well as building a welcoming and inclusive school climate for students, staff and community members.

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