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Incumbents Sean Connor and Genoveva Elias will be joined by board hopeful Douglas Wyss on the May primary ballot

Three candidates for the St. Paul School District board of directors — Douglas Wyss and incumbents Sean Connor and Genoveva Elias — have filed the proper paperwork and are running unopposed in the upcoming primary election, slated for May 21. We reached out to the trio with a few questions about their background and experience. Here are their answers (edited for brevity, clarity, punctuation, etc.).

Director, Position 1 — Four-year term

Douglas Wyss

Relevant Experience:Wyss

"I've served on the board of directors for the St. Paul Telephone Co-op since April of 2017. In my professional career, I've worked 10-plus years as a manager where I've worked closely with teams, much like in a board setting having to make challenging decisions collectively. "

Why are you running?

"I have three children currently in the school district (ages 7, 11 and 17). Our oldest son graduated from St. Paul High School two years ago. The quality of our schools will impact my children directly for the next 11 years.  Indirectly, the quality of all the students coming out of St. Paul schools will impact this community for a lifetime.   

"I've lived in St. Paul for close to 20 years, collectively, and I want to be involved and support the community that I love.  I believe we have one of the finest school districts in the state and I want to do whatever I can to help us constantly look for ways to improve who we are as a district.  I believe there aren't many better ways to volunteer your time than to support the students in your community.

What are the biggest issues facing the school district?

"For me, I think it will be to maintain the high quality staff we have working in the district across the board.  As we lose teachers or administrators to retirement or new and bigger opportunities, it's important we make good hires that are well suited for a smaller school district like St. Paul.  Not all teachers or administrators are good fits in a small rural district.

"Additionally, potential changes to state funding support programs for all Oregon school districts is a concern. How do we maintain our plans when state funding isn't what it was projected to be based on current/future budgets?   

What would you like to see accomplished if you are elected?

"I want to ensure we continue to invest in our infrastructure to keep our schools up to date and safe for students, employees and visitors.  I also would like to see the board continue to work closely with the city government to improve safety zones around the schools related to roadways, sidewalks and crosswalks.

"I also want to continue to see St. Paul emphasize its efforts to improve fitness and nutrition across the district."

Why are you the best candidate?

"I would never claim to be the best candidate. What I would say is I like to be involved with the kids of our community and this is a great role to be able to do that.  I take great pride in representing St. Paul and understand it's my responsibility to bring community member concerns to the board. 

"My approach to making decisions is simple; I listen carefully and ask questions, study the facts and then spend time considering all the aspects of the topic.  Then in our group setting, I am sometimes introduced to thoughts about the topic that I haven't always considered.  I then would make a decision I felt best served the interests of the entire district."

Director, Position 2 — Four-year term

Sean Connor

Relevant Experience Connor

"I am currently serving on the St Paul school board and was appointed to this position by the board due to a vacancy that was created in 2016. I was part of the most recent bond campaign and bond completion and spent (more than) 15 years on the school district budget committee. 

"I have also served for several years on the St. Paul Fire Board and volunteer as a coach in the district and have children that attend St. Paul schools. I am very active in the community and participate in many activities that support the school, both as a volunteer and as a fundraiser."

Why are you running?

"I believe in local control in our school communities and feel that our schools should serve the educational and emotional needs of all our students, regardless of their background. Participating as a board member gives me the opportunity to be directly involved in shaping the present and future of our district, including the education format/programs and facility upgrades, when needed. My efforts on the school board have and will continue to focus on what is best for the students and families in St Paul."

What are the biggest issues facing the school district?

"State school funding is perhaps the largest hurdle facing our district. Maintaining programs and a highly qualified staff are priorities that I feel I can help to support within our district. Providing a wide variety of programs within our district that serve all students is also an issue that faces our district."

What would you like to see accomplished if you are elected?

"I would like to continue to support the great work that is being done in St Paul. As a district, we have made many improvements over the past several years -- in the classroom and with facility upgrades. I would work to continue the strong traditions of the district and serve as an effective communication link between our community and our school district."

Why are you the best candidate?

"I have relevant and current experience on the school board. I am currently serving on the board and my election would allow me to continue working on the many initiatives with which I have already been involved. These projects include, but are not limited to the expansion of the academic programs offered within the district, the construction of new facilities and the renovation of others, as well as the creation of athletic and activity offerings that serve our districts students. My schedule allows me the opportunity to commit the time needed to continue the work of providing guidance and leadership within the district."

Director, Position 7 — Four-year term

Genoveva Elias

Relevant Experience Elias

"I have been on the board for the past four years. I also work for a school district and I have an understanding in education policy."

Why are you running?

"As a Latina, I want the Hispanic population to have a voice. As an employee of a school district, I have the background and understanding to support staff members through policy. As a community member, I want to be an advocate to our children."

What would you like to see accomplished if you are elected?

"I would like to ensure continued success in graduation rates and academic success to our students." 

Why are you the best candidate?

"I understand and have experience with the school district policy. I am bilingual and bi-cultural. I have a passion to serve our community."

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