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Our picks for Hillsboro School Board


Voters who reside inside the Hillsboro School District boundaries can relax: There are no bad choices on the May 21 school board ballot.

That’s not to say there aren’t any differences among the two incumbents and five challengers vying for three positions on the volunteer board. Indeed, the seven candidates bring a wide variety of educational and occupational experience, as well as slight (and in one case, significant) differences in the priorities they would set for the district.

But all of them are running serious, policy-driven campaigns and each could bring valuable skills and insights to the seven-member school panel.

Below are our picks, based on the candidates’ responses to questions we posed to them and a review of their records and public statements, including their comments at last week’s Hillsboro Chamber of Commerce forum.

We encourage you to view our endorsements not as the final word, but as part of your research. Read our news coverage of the candidates, review their Voters’ Pamphlet statements and, if possible, get out and talk to them directly. Remember, these are at-large positions, meaning you’ll get to cast a ballot in all the contests below, as well as Position 3, in which incumbent Monte Akers is running unopposed.

Position 1

Janeen Sollman

This race pits a well-respected incumbent with an incredible record of community service against an impressive challenger with a wealth of local government experience.

Our choice is Janeen Sollman, who has been on the school board since 2009 and currently serves as chairwoman. During her tenure, Sollman has become active in the Oregon School Boards Association, adding a valuable statewide perspective inside Oregon’s fourth-largest school district.

With her youngest son still enrolled in the district, Sollman, 43, has a parent’s perspective, but one tempered with the experience of helping guide the district through deep budget cuts that have affected her own kids.

Sollman also serves as an unofficial ambassador for the district in her volunteer work for Meals on Wheels and the Senior Center and her post on an advisory council to the Hillsboro Family Resource Center.

Given Sollman’s record, it’s hard to imagine endorsing anyone else. But Richard Vial made us take a hard look. The 58-year-old Realtor-turned-lawyer served on the Groner School Board (until it was brought into the Hillsboro District 20 years ago), the Washington County Fair Board and currently sits on the Washington County Planning Commission and Clean Water Services Advisory Commission.

That background would make him a quick study on the school board, and we share Vial’s concerns about the number of kids who fail to graduate from high school. In another matchup he might be our choice, but in this race we’re sticking with Sollman.

Position 3

Mik Sander

A trio of intriguing candidates filed to run for the seat being vacated by Carolyn Ortman, who is stepping down after 21 years on the board.

All three have upbeat personalities and life experiences that lend themselves to service on a school board.

Glenn Miller, 48, a high-tech systems analyst, serves on the district’s budget committee and volunteers with the band boosters at Liberty High, where his daughter goes to school. His problem-solving skills are a good match for the post, and his involvement in the district shows he’s already committed to improving educational opportunities.

Jaime Rodriguez, 50, who also has a daughter in the district, has an equally impressive record of involvement, serving on an elementary school site council and the district’s curriculum advisory committee. What’s more, his job as a career specialist at Portland Community College would bring a valued perspective to the board.

Our pick for the board, however, is Miklosch (Mik) Sander, an IT consultant who has served on the board of the district’s only public charter school (City View), including a three-year stint as president. He has three young children in the district.

He’s a big fan of using technology, but doesn’t claim to have all the answers. Rather, he’s intent on listening to what others say — a good idea for any new board member.

But mainly we’re swayed by Sander’s enthusiasm for the unpaid job. At 32, he would be the youngest board member by more than a decade, a distinction evident in his campaign. He’s the only candidate to produce a You Tube video featuring puppies and kittens (search “VoteMik”) or publish a cell phone number in the Voters’ Pamphlet.

In a contest with three good choices, Sanders is ours.

Position 6

Rebecca Lantz

This race features the strongest contrasts between candidates. Incumbent Rebecca Lantz has been involved with district advisory committees since 2000 and has served on the school board since 2005. The 52-year-old homemaker, who has watched three kids graduate from Glencoe High, is a strong advocate for improving technology in the classroom, but is not calling for any major changes to district policy or practices.

Erik Seligman, on the other hand, wants to shake things up. The 43-year-old Intel engineer, who narrowly lost to Janeen Sollman four years ago, says he wants to cut “bureaucracy” in the district “to the bone,” improve administrative “transparency” and offer parents more choices on where to send their kids in the district (via charter schools) and out of the district (through open enrollment).

We admire Seligman’s energy. He serves on the district curriculum committee, is a prolific blogger, hosts an on-line math podcast and is a frequent guest columnist for the Hillsboro Argus.

But his combative nature — he has described school administrators as “arrogant” — and lack of experience inside the schools make us think it’s a good time to stick with the experienced incumbent.