Today the Statesman Journal has an illuminating story by Natalie Pate about the Salem-Keizer school board races that will be decided on next Tuesday's election day, May 18.
There's two slates competing for votes on opposite sides of the political spectrum.
These are the moderate candidates that I urge you to cast your ballot for if you haven't voted already. (Take your ballot to a drop box, since it is too late to put it in the mail.)
The Statesman Journal story says about them:
Osvaldo Avila (Zone 1), Ashley Carson Cottingham (Zone 3), Karina Gúzman Ortiz (Zone 5) and María Hinojos Pressy (Zone 7) have been endorsed by more politically liberal groups, unions and PACs, such as Community for Salem-Keizer Schools, PCUN and Progressive Salem.
These candidates have focused on issues such as returning to schools safely and raising the district's graduation rates.
Yes, the story correctly notes that Avila, Cottingham, Ortiz, and Pressey have endorsements from more politically liberal groups.
But compared to the very conservative slate of candidates, these four are decidedly moderate.
Kari Zohner (Zone 1), Linda Farrington (Zone 3), Mike Slagle (Zone 5) and Liam Collins (Zone 7) have been endorsed by more politically conservative groups and political action committees, such as Protect Kids, Oregon Right to Life and Marion+Polk First.
These candidates have focused their priorities on immediately reopening schools full-time and bringing back school resource officers.
Oregon Right to Life and the closely associated Protect Kids and Marion+Polk First have pumped a lot of money into trying to make the Salem-Keizer School Board a platform to promote extreme right-wing policies.
Even though school board members have little-to-no say on reproductive health education in local schools, the Oregon Right to Life's PAC has invested heavily into Salem-Keizer school board elections for the past several races. This year is no different.
Oregon Right to Life and other PACs are helping some of the conservative-slate candidates pay off debts and have paid off tens of thousands of dollars to Intisar Strategies, owned by David Kilada, the former political director of Oregon Right to Life.
Intisar Strategies, which is running the four candidates' campaigns, is described as a political consulting and marketing firm dedicated to advancing center-right candidates, issues and causes in Oregon.
The Protect Kids PAC, supporting the same slate of candidates, released mailers saying to "vote for our conservative values."
You know, I'm old fashioned. I don't believe students should be held hostage to conservative values.
Growing up in the long ago times (1950s and 60s), back then school boards were focused on, no big surprise, students.
But now right-wingers have set a goal to bring their Trumpist ideology to local races like school board elections.
It's super important to not let the Oregon Right to Life slate of candidates succeed in making the Salem-Keizer school board a branch of the extreme conservatism that is trying to subvert democracy in states across the nation.
Vote wisely. Again, I recommend Osvaldo Avila (Zone 1), Ashley Carson Cottingham (Zone 3), Karina Gúzman Ortiz (Zone 5) and María Hinojos Pressey (Zone 7).