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Voters pick Kathy Wai for North Clackamas School Board

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Position 5 candidate Kathy Wai youngest ever to be elected to position on board

By a 65-to-35-percent margin in unofficial results, Kathy Wai won the May 16 election for North Clackamas School Board's Position 5.

Wai and her opponent in the election are both U.S. immigrants. Karelia Harding was born in Honduras, and Wai was born in the Southeast Asian country of Myanmar (formerly Burma).

PHOTO BY: RAYMOND RENDLEMAN - Kathy Wai and her supporters for North Clackamas School Board's Position 5 celebrate the May 16 election results at Happy Valley Station.Wai said that public education transformed her life and she hoped to inspire the next generation of students as the youngest candidate to be elected to the board. She will turn 31 in June.

"My vision is to make sure that all students have the resources and the support they need to thrive," Wai said.

Kathy WaiAfter 12 years on the board, Vivian Scott decided to step down and encourage two women from diverse backgrounds to step into the position. Wai was also encouraged by former NCSD Board member Cheryl Myers, the director of culture and inclusion of the Oregon Higher Education Commission.

"I think Kathy will be a great addition to the board and will bring a great perspective," Myers said.

A resident of Happy Valley, Wai works as the civic engagement manager for the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon, where she served on the board of directors from 2009-12. She is on the steering committee for the Asian and Pacific Islander Community Leadership Institute.

Wai believes that North Clackamas needs leaders who are "culturally competent" to address Oregon's growing diverse population. She graduated from St. Mary's Academy in Portland in 2004 and received her bachelor's degree in community health in 2007 from Portland State University.

During a candidate's forum at Willamette View, both Harding and Wai made it clear that they oppose voucher systems for residents of the North Clackamas area to get public funding to send their kids to private schools. Wai said that she instead supports strong neighborhood schools.

Wai was endorsed by Clackamas County Commissioner Martha Schrader, former North Clackamas School Board Chair Cheryl Myers, state Sen. Michael Dembrow, state Rep. Jeff Reardon, state Rep. Karin Power, Milwaukie City Councilor Angel Falconer and Clackamas Community College Board Member Dave Hunt.

Tory McVay, an incumbent on the North Clackamas School Board who easily won re-election, was being challenged by retired NCSD employee Jill Jackson, who missed the deadline for including a statement in the Voters' Pamphlet. North Clackamas School Board incumbent Mitzi Bauer ran unopposed in the May 16 election.