Two of three school board seats are contested

Forest Grove School District has three seats up for grabs in the May 21 election.

Two of those seats are contested races.

In Position 1, incumbent John Hayes is running unopposed for the position he was appointed to in January 2012 after a stormy time for the school district in which two school board members were recalled by voters.

Charless Waterman and Erin Fivecoat are vying for Position 2. Waterman was appointed just one month ago to the seat previously held by Gil Jimenez, who passed away in February.

Three men are running for Position 4. Current board chairwoman Alisa Hampton opted not to run for another term. Jeff Cooper, Sebastian Lawler and Lonnie Winkler are running for the seat.

Winkler is the alternate on the school district's budget committee and Cooper has served on the the technology committee. Lawler has served on the city's Forestry Commission and is currently a member of the Committee for Citizen Involvement.

Below is more information on each of the candidates:

Position 1:

John Hayes — unopposed. Appointed in January 2012.

Occupation: Director of Pacific University's Center for a Sustainable Society

Of interest: Hayes is co-author of the “Quiet Water” series of canoing/kayaking guides.

On influencing school funding at the state level:

“The current school board has had a major influence on school funding. We organized a forum in Forest Grove that included Washington County school board members, superintendents and legislators."

Position 2:

Charless Waterman — appointed in March 2013

Occupation: Currently unemployed; laid off from Waste Management, where she worked for 9 years, most recently as office supervisor at the Hillsboro Landfill.

Of interest: Waterman holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration and MBA in sustainable business from Marylhurst University.

On technology upgrades in the school district:

“We’ve been disinvesting in technology for the last two or three years. Curricula all over the nation is going digital. It’s important for our students to be exposed to it. It doesn’t replace books or teachers — it’s a tool. I wouldn’t lay off a teacher to buy a student an iPad.”

Erin Fivecoat

Occupation: Instructional Administrative Assistant, Portland Community College, Rock Creek Campus

No prior governmental experience.

Fivecoat did not respond to requests from the News-Times for additional information.

Position 3:

Lonnie Winkler — currently an alternate on the school district’s budget committee

Occupation: Senior Manager of Field Operations, EID Passport, Inc.

Of interest: Winkler graduated from Vernonia High School and has worked at Intel, Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard and EID Passport during his career.

On running for school board:

“I am interested in holding the position because I think the grade schools in the district are underrepresented on the board. I also think technology is something the district should invest in, but it needs to be done smartly, with a focus on career development and efficiencies in the classroom.”

Jeff Cooper

Occupation: unemployed educator

Of interest: Cooper has an extensive background in teaching and computer technology. He has taught middle and high school English and technology classes, and was a technology specialist in the College of Education at Pacific University for three years.

On the biggest challenge facing the Forest Grove School District:

“Most would argue budget. I disagree. I think the biggest issue is curriculum development and helping students become actively engaged with their own education. The only way to do this is to arm them with the most important tool in education: computers. I have a plan to bring this to fruition without spending general fund money.”

Sebastian Bannister Lawler

Occupation: Volunteer, American Red Cross donor services

Of interest: Lawler graduated as a valedictorian from Forest Grove High School and summa cum laude from Pacific University.

On running for school board:

“I’d like to get four years to do something good in the district. This is not a springboard to something else for me. I want to give back to the district that gave me an exceptional education. I’m part of a new generation that can bring diversity to the board. They key is paying attention to the communities of Gales Creek, Forest Grove and Cornelius. I can be a moderating voice. I love to inspire people.”

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