Two current board members will not run for re-election

With the deadline to file for the West Linn-Wilsonville School Board elections set later today, a number of candidates both old and new have already declared their candidacies for three open seats.

Board chair Keith Steele will run for re-election at his position, while vice chair Dale Hoogestraat plans to bow out after nine years on the board.

“It’s been a nice run,” Hoogestraat said. “But I’m ready to move on.”

Cheri Zimmerman, a board member for the last two years, has also decided not to run for re-election, citing medical reasons.

Steele, however, is far from finished after his first year serving as board chair. A member of the board since 2009, Steele served as vice chair before moving up to his current position in July SUBMITTED - Steele  Prior to becoming an elected board member, he was part of the West Linn-Wilsonville School District Budget Committee and worked as a co-chair of the 2008 capital bond campaign that led to the addition of Lowrie and Trillium Creek primary schools, among other projects.

“Essentially I’m running to continue the leadership and work we’ve had since (Superintendent) Dr. Rhoades came on,” Steele said. “With Dale (Hoogestraat) leaving, I’m the senior person and I think it’s in the best interest of the board and the district that I stay on.”

Steele, a West Linn resident with two children currently enrolled in the school district, works as a principal and managing partner at Sitka Technology Group. He holds a bachelor of science degree in business finance and law from Portland State University.

Challenging Steele for his position is Ron Parton. Also of Westby: SUBMITTED - Parton Linn, Parton harbors no ill will toward the board as it currently stands. He simply wants to lend his services while they are needed.

“I’ve got a skill set that would be valuable to the board — problem solving and analytical thinking,” Parton said. “The budget issues that are hitting everybody are the issues that needs focus, and communication from the board to the citizens.”

Parton, who holds a bachelor’s degree in finance from Roosevelt University, is retired but still works as a business consultant for various companies. He previously served on the Tualatin Budget Committee as well as the Tualatin City Council.

With Hoogestraat departing, a spot opened up for Rob by: SUBMITTED - Fernandez Fernandez — a Wilsonville resident of 27 years who served briefly on the school board as a replacement to Lori Beight before losing to Betty Reynolds in the 2011 election. In past years, Fernandez has served on both budget and bond oversight committees for the school district, and the Carisbrook Technology Services president believes he is well qualified to assist the board in uncertain financial times.

“There are some very critical financial issues facing the district,” Fernandez said. “Unfortunately, the school funding stuff — it’s convoluted. So it really helps to have some context from prior budgets.”

Fernandez has three children currently enrolled in the school district — one at Inza R. Wood Middle School and two at Wilsonville High School. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Lewis & Clark University and a master of business administration from the University of Pennsylvania.

“I just feel like there’s a lot of unfinished business,” Fernandez said. “Everybody chooses their area to volunteer in, and mine is schools.”

Wilsonville resident Regan Sonnen Molatore is running to fillby: SUBMITTED - Molatore Zimmerman’s seat, with the hopes of using her background in law to help the board through uncertain times.

“For upcoming years, the board is planning on pursuing additional bonds,” Molatore said. “I think my knowledge of working with municipal projects and educational institutions would be helpful.”

Indeed, during her time in Pasadena, Calif., as a practicing attorney at Hunt, Ortmann, Et.Al., Molatore represented a number of institutions including University of California-Irvine and the Los Angeles United School District.

Herself a graduate of West Linn High School, Molatore went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of San Diego with a minor in psychology and Spanish. She graduated from the University of Oregon School of Law in 2000. Molatore currently has two children in second grade and kindergarten at Boeckman Creek Primary School, and serves as the Vice-President of the West Linn-Wilsonville Education Foundation.

“I love this district,” Molatore said. “It has served me incredibly well in this life. I would like the opportunity to repay my gratitude by serving the district as school board director.”

Deadline to file for candidacy is at 5 p.m. Thursday.

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