Show Hartman some ballot love by voting for her in third race

Ballots went out last Friday in Oregon and among the items of interest in the May 21 special election are three Lake Oswego School Board races — two of them contested.

There’s a bit of a changing of the guard going on with the school board: Two members, including longtime board member Linda Brown (position 2) and Teri Oelrich (position 4), are not running again.

Several issues separate this election from other recent school board elections. None of these is bigger than the fact the new school board will be charged with selecting the successor to longtime district Superintendent Bill Korach, the longest-serving public school superintendent in Oregon. Other key challenges remain the contentious and never-ending school funding woes, dealing with controversial school closures (three have been closed in the district in the last few years), what to do about PERS and dealing with the looming core curriculum changes.

As is often the case in Lake Oswego politics, we typically draw high-quality people to run for office. This is the true again this time. Although we always like to see the voters offered choices, in the contest for position 4, Liz Hartman is the only person running. Hartman’s candidacy is a legitimate one. She has a solid background, including serving as chairwoman of the Glenmorrie Neighborhood Association and being president of the Lakeridge High School Pacer Parent Club. We encourage local residents to show support for Hartman by marking their ballots for her in this race.

The other two races, for positions 2 and 3, are contested and complicated.

Both Karen Delaney and incumbent John Wendland are running for position 3, and their approaches and backgrounds are very different; in the contest for position 2, two well-known community residents — Sarah Howell and Kevin Robertson — each with significant involvement with the Lake Oswego Schools Foundation, are running against each other.

For the past few weeks, the Lake Oswego Review has seen the pages of its opinion section swell considerably as voters shared their thoughts on the candidates at 200 words a pop. Now it’s our turn to weigh in.

For position 2, we are backing Robertson — by a nose. We really like both of these candidates and, truth be told, the electorate would be well served by either. We hope that whoever comes in second won’t be discouraged and is willing to run again in the future.

Howell represents the only candidate with younger children in the district. She portrays this as a positive; Robertson notes that his children are older and he has gained from that experience. We appreciate Howell’s energy, her demeanor and rational thinking. She has been one of the most active people in the effort to develop LOSD’s language immersion program. Howell also has served the marketing arm for the schools foundation.

Robertson has volunteered at virtually every level in the district for the past 10 years, has been a soccer coach and has served as president of the schools foundation. He also led the effort to help create a new funding mechanism with the endowment. Robertson also offers a calm demeanor, a thoughtful approach to decision making and years of experience on the financial side. He’s a senior vice president with Merrill Lynch.

Howell and Robertson both have great qualifications as regular school volunteers and as foundation board members. They are both smart, positive team players who are well apprised of the major issues facing the school board in the coming years. They both attend school board meetings. The main difference seems to be that Robertson has done most of what they both do for longer. His experience gives him a slight edge.

Meanwhile, over in the race for position 3, the differences are much more obvious.

Incumbent Wendland and Delaney are both well aware of the issues. They are smart, driven people who want to make a difference in the community. Yet, Delaney is, perhaps, a better critic than she is a candidate. She has smart insights but may struggle to work within a group to achieve them. On a side note, some of the negative campaigning in this race has distracted from the issues both candidates represent.

Both are thoughtful, articulate and passionate about students. Wendland has been on the board during some of its most stressful periods, including during the decision to close three elementary schools. Delaney has been a vocal opponent of the way the board conducted its business during that period.

Delaney, an attorney, would bring to the board legal experience and a questioning voice. Both of these are important attributes if they can be used in a way that fosters improvement within the district. Our concern is that Delaney's differing views on school closures, training of the new superintendent and openness in administrative and board matters could end up being more divisive than team building. That would not be helpful.

Wendland's senior leadership on the board would be important as the district moves to hire a new superintendent. Having a strong superintendent is vital to the continued success of the district. Wendland fits this bill. He has a strong grasp of the issues, has proven he is willing to make tough decisions, has a collaborative management style and understands the district’s budget issues.

For the district to continue to move forward, we suggest voting for Wendland for position 3.

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