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Forest Grove School Board recall targets stand for Nov. 1 election

Anna Tavera-Weller, Terry Howell ask voters to keep them in their spots until 2013

Recall targets Terry Howell and Anna Tavera-Weller have elected not to resign, but instead to fight for their positions on the Forest Grove School Board.

Washington County Elections senior administrative specialist Luther Arnold said Monday that the two board members, who came under fire over the summer by a group of school district residents unhappy with budgeting and policy decisions made last spring, turned in statements of justification that will be printed on ballots in a Nov. 1 special election.

Voters will decide whether to oust one or both of the board members or to retain them through the remainder of their terms, which are due to expire in June 2013. Howell holds Position 2 on the five-member panel, while Tavera-Weller holds Position 1.

Hampton excluded

Board Chairwoman Alisa Hampton originally was included in a plan by Gales Creek residents Jason and Jodi Giddings to cull members they say acted ineffectively or incompetently during a contentious budget cycle in early 2011.

She was spared a recall attempt from her Position 3 seat after organizers realized they needed a quorum on the board to appoint replacements for Howell and Tavera-Weller should a recall succeed.

Longtime board member Fred Marble, who was reelected to Position 5 in May, and newcomer Kate Grandusky, who defeated former Cornelius mayor Ralph Brown for the Position 4 slot the same month, were not named in the effort. In Oregon, elected officials are exempt from recall for the first six months of their tenure.

1,616 signatures

In late June, the Giddingses recruited a number of other disgruntled citizens, who canvassed Forest Grove and Cornelius neighborhoods for about 11 weeks to gather the 1,616 signatures required to trigger an election. They met that threshold two weeks ago, and elections officials validated the signatures Sept. 26.

While recall supporters said Howell had 'shown ineffectiveness' in his duties on the board, they charged that Tavera-Weller had 'shown incompetence.'

Howell's ballot statement warns voters that his recall would 'cause further turmoil' on the board 'with no direct solutions' to the district's fiscal and programmatic challenges.

Tavera-Weller's statement points out her advocacy for Hispanic families in the district and endorses the adoption of a controversial reading textbook program last spring.

However, she wrote in a Monday e-mail that she wants to remain on the board 'to continue to work for all concerned - not just because I am the lone Latina on the board.'

Two ballots coming

The county elections office will mail ballots to voters next Friday, Oct. 14, Arnold said. To ensure they reach the elections office by the deadline, 8 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 1, voters should put them in the mail by Wednesday, Oct. 26.

Voters can also deposit their ballots at 24-hour drop boxes in Forest Grove, Cornelius or Hillsboro, or bring them to the elections office, 3700 NW Murray Blvd. in Beaverton.

The Forest Grove School Recall ballots shouldn't be confused with mail-in ballots for the 1st Congressional District race scheduled for Nov. 8, which are due to be mailed out Oct. 21.

Arnold said the final cost of the recall vote to the Forest Grove School District would not be known until the election is certified, but elections manager Mickie Kawai last month estimated it could reach between $12,000 and $30,000.

Terry Howell's statement to voters:

'There is no denying that 2011 has been a tough year for the Forest Grove School District. From the threat of losing Title 1 funding, to the reality of $7.5 million in budget cuts, we have had our hands full.

Despite these challenges, FGSD has much to be proud of: Our students continue to progress toward state achievement goals, FGHS continues to set achievement records, and our graduates are enrolling in college at a higher rate than ever. In addition, we are replacing an aging dangerous school and making many needed additions to several of our buildings without increasing property taxes.

My goal is to work closely with our community, staff, and employee associations to find ways to reduce costs and eliminate waste, in an effort to bring back critical programs like foreign language studies, the arts, and vocational training. I am committed to listening to the community to find solutions that will best serve all of our district's students.

We will continue to face fiscal and academic challenges in the future and a recall will cause further turmoil with no direct solutions. I want to continue to serve you, and fulfill my commitment to our students and community.'

Anna Tavera-Weller's statement to voters:

'I care deeply about each student in our district and want to help this community work together to improve our schools. I don't like what is happening with school funding - locally or nationally. It has forced us to make painful choices resulting in fewer electives and laying off wonderful teachers.

Closing Gales Creek school has been considered many times. Each time, the district could find somewhere else to cut. I understand being upset with the Board for closing a school that's been part of our community for generations. But we faced a very difficult decision this time - the need to balance the needs of ALL students we serve.

The board represents every taxpayer, every child. It's a promise we make as your elected officials. We worked together as a board to approve a new core reading program that will help all the K-6 students in our district. Our children need this program to succeed in school!

I have been and will continue to be involved with the Latino community and I believe it is important to have a bilingual/bicultural board member. I want to continue to provide the best possible education for all children, despite our difficult financial challenges.'