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Forum planned for St. Helens school board candidates

Board hopefuls will field questions, address public on May 4 at SHHS

A candidate forum for this month’s school board races in the St. Helens School District is scheduled for Monday evening, May 4.

The forum is being held at the Loo Wit Room at St. Helens High School. It will begin at 7:30 p.m. All eight candidates for the two positions on the board up for election this year have been invited to attend.

Candidates will be asked to answer five or six questions on the spot, followed by closing remarks, according to organizer Roger Patterson. The moderator will be Jack Carter.

A group called “Concerned Citizens for Better Schools” is organizing the forum, as they did with a similar event in the lead-up to the 2013 school board elections.

“It is a very small committee made up of three teachers, one classified, and two community members,” said Patterson, a mathematics teacher at St. Helens High who is a member of the group, in an email Monday, April 27. “We hosted a forum two years ago for school board candidates, but that is the only activity we do.”

Oregon elections law restricts public employees — a category that encompasses staff at public schools — from campaigning on behalf of a candidate or political position while on the job. However, it allows them to “prepare and distribute impartial written material or make an impartial presentation that discusses election subjects,” according to a reference guide from the Oregon secretary of state’s office.

“Our main concern is finding school board candidates that best represent our students, and our schools as a whole. We are excited about the candidates we have for the two positions,” Patterson stated, adding, “We do not endorse candidates, we provide information so voters can make informed choices.”

The seats up for election this year are Position 2, currently held by Ray Biggs, and Position 5, held by Bill Amos, who was appointed to fill a vacancy earlier this year.

Both Biggs and Amos are running for election. Each incumbent faces three challengers. The election is Tuesday, May 19

Patterson said he expects all of the candidates to attend.