Conservatives ignoring school board races is a great loss

By Erik Seligman
School Board candidate who lost by 56 votes

The recent tea parties were an amaszing expression of energy and hope by the conservative movement, but I found them rather annoying. Not that I disagree with their philosophy and goals– far from it. But during the April-May time frame, there was an actual election campaign happening in Oregon. Conservative candidates were running for local positions such as fire and rescue district boards, water district boards, community college directors, and school board directors. We often criticize liberals for emphasizing symbolism over substance, but in this case conservatives were guilty of this sin: pouring all their energy into symbolic marches and protests, while actual candidates for positions that affect their daily lives needed their help.

I can’t begin to count the number of times during the campaign that Republicans or conservatives told me they thought these positions didn’t matter. “I don’t have kids in the school system currently.” “It’s just an administrative position.” “Only the legislators can do anything important.” But I strongly disagree. Electing local conservative candidates is important for a number of reasons:

Local boards control a lot of taxpayer money. Ultimately, if there is a choice of whether to spend lavishly, save for a rainy day, or return money to the taxpayers, who do you want making the decision?

Local boards negotiate contracts with unions. If there is no conservative candidate, often a former employee with a direct connection to the union ends up on the board, negotiating the contract. Do you think taxpayers get a good deal in such cases?

School boards permit or deny local charter schools. The charter school movement is an exciting opportunity to change the education system, affecting the next generation of Oregonians. But an anti-charter school board has lots of latitude to keep them out. * Local positions can be a launching point for political careers. To many voters, experience on a local board is a major asset for a state-level candidate. If we want more viable conservatives in legislative races, we need to start them at the local level.

Some might object that running a conservative candidate in liberal areas of Oregon is hopeless anyway, but as a candidate for the Hillsboro school board in the recent election, I have to disagree. On local issues, many “liberals” are more conservative than they realize. As I knocked on doors and spoke to my neighbors, I found that many shared my concerns, and by focusing on real issues like fiscal responsibility and charter schools, I was able to gain significant support. In the end, I lost by only 56 votes, out of over 9000 cast in the district. In neighboring districts, we had several Republican victories, including LeAnn Larson winning a seat on the Beaverton school board, and Gene Pitts getting elected to the PCC board of directors.

I hope that when the next election season arrives, conservatives take these lessons to heart. We need a conservative candidate for every position, active campaign volunteers for these local races, and most importantly, we need every conservative to vote in the election. This way we can truly harness the Tea Party spirit and use it to create real political change.

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Posted by at 06:00 | Posted in Measure 37 | 16 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • anonymous

    First off let me say you should be appointed to the vacancy on the HSD board since you were the closest “loser”. I’ve made my feelings known to those in charge!
    OK with that said, I found the whining piece off crap letter, signed by you and 3 other “losers”, in Fridays Hillsboro Argus, annoying and full of inaccuracies. Trust me pal, whoever wrote the letter failed the others and it should be responded to.

    Now the tea parties. A total waste of time because when they are over they are over. The attendees all go home, do nothing but whine and then turn around and vote for Liberals & RINO’s ’cause they really don’t pay attention to what’s going on.

    • Erik seligman

      Strange to agree with1/2 a letter, then call it a ‘whining piece of ccrap’. Pls email with specific complaints.

    • Randy Goforth

      Nice classy response. It shows through so well when you apply words like “loser” to people.

  • By the Sea

    furthermore, when school boards do cause problems in our schools , people blame the mayor. How odd is that?

  • Britt Storkson

    It would help if we could have honest, impartial elections. I ran for the local power company board of directors, Wasco Electric Co-op, for the last 6 years and lost every year. Why? Because rigged elections are legal (meaning not illegal). If those who control the co-operative don’t want you there no matter how many votes you get you lose.

    The law governing co-operatives states that they must hold elections. It does not state that the elections must be honest or impartial. Electric co-operatives can throw all of the votes in the shredder, declare whomever they want as the winner and, if this were to go before a court of law, the judge would side with the co-operative.

    Our local state representative John Huffman, R-The Dalles, wants rigged elections. If you don’t believe me ask him yourself.

    On top of that the co-operative used ratepayer money to send out a flier defaming me and that’s not illegal either.

    If we cannot count on honest and impartial elections we are nothing more than an banana republic.

    • By the Sea

      So what are you proposing to fix it? You can’t just say it is corrpt and nothing can be done.

      • Britt Storkson

        Sure something can be done. We can change the law to require honest and impartial elections and impose penalties if that doesn’t happen.

        But that’s the point: Our lawmakers don’t want honest and impartial elections. Did you ask Rep. Huffman about this?

        One of the major reasons third world countries are third world countries is because they don’t have honest and impartial elections. Do we really want to be just another third world country?

  • skippy

    Schoolboard members park their politics at the door and deal with policy. As a current school board member in a larger city, party affiliation isn’t in play. What is in play is informed decision making which requires hours and hours of research. Erik’s agenda is far too partisan. Taxpayers are in every political party and as such deserve impartial representation by school board members.

    • Harry

      skippy claims to be a school board member in a large city. Well, I claim to be a former board member from a small, rural district.

      skippy also claims: “Schoolboard members park their politics at the door and deal with policy. As a current school board member in a larger city, party affiliation isn’t in play.”

      Party affiliation may not be in play, but politics sure is. The skippy statement that “Schoolboard members park their politics at the door” is flat out false. Politicians never park their politics, and school board members are non-partisan politicians. Any time anybody tells you they have no bias, ask them to look up the word ‘bias’ in the dictionairy. Everybody has a bias, an opinion, a perspective, and everybody can be placed somewhere on the political spectrum between liberal and conservative.

      The article states:
      “Local boards negotiate contracts with unions. If there is no conservative candidate, often a former employee with a direct connection to the union ends up on the board, negotiating the contract. Do you think taxpayers get a good deal in such cases?”

      How many people are willing to bet that skippy is:
      1- a former government worker (schools or other)?
      2- has a spouse working in the schools or government workplace?
      3- is a liberal democrat who claims to park her/her politics at the door?

  • carol

    you are correct I did not vote because I had the same attitude .. now after reading this I am kicking myself.. I also ran out of time to get into the mail .. for school board positions I didn’t know they were conservative.. this being Oregon I thought they were all liberals.. Thanks for the information..

    • Erik Seligman

      Thanks for your post– the reason I wrote this article was to reach people like you. Remember to vote next time, & tell all your friends as well!

  • Richard

    I have been reading Why I Am Not a Conservative – F. A. Hayek, I have to agree with him the Conservatism is unable to offer and attentive to the Left’s push to statism. Conservatism only can impede or push less than the leftist. The failure here is the conservative ideology in of preserving institutions. This is why school reform is failing; conservatism sought to protect the institution rather than change it or dissolve it as in case of the education system.

    Now getting back to the local election, I can not fault Washington County Republicans in trying to get the information out. Still I struggled with voting for school boards members until the very end. Now I realize my vote is wrong.
    I have disagree with the republics supporting a tax funded, forced attended, state run education system. The fact you think the solution have the conservatives run the institution is vain at best. All it has done is impeded the schools system with school choice and vouchers, but the failure to abolish the institution and eventually allow the institution to grow stronger and eventually overturn conservative reforms.
    Now you think the solution is we need just need more conservatives to run school boards, I saw to devil with state run schools systems and with conservatism. The institution of a tax funded forced attend education institution is not important to infringe on the liberty of its individual citizens.
    As for future votes to me perhaps being on a school board is a liability and in the name of individual liberty shall not get my vote or support.

    • anonymous

      Huh? Read your dribble 3x and still don’t understand what the hell you’re trying to say.

      • Richard

        It is my opinion out education system should be voluntary and separate from the state.

        It this plain enough for you.

    • Erik Seligman

      Richard– I would urge you to read what I wrote above and reconsider. Even if you refuse to enroll your own children in any public or charter school, and consider them total wastes as govt programs, I think many of the points still apply.

      Regardless of your beliefs, public schools will continue to exist for the foreseeable future, and will control and manage a large chunk of your money, in addition to influencing the minds of large portions of the next generation of voters. If you don’t have conservatives helping to run them, they will still be there, just even more wasteful, ineffective, and damaging to our republic.

      • RichadB

        Then my efforts will be a waste of my time or efforts. Your very words show what why I cannot be a conservative. The institution will not go away so therefore I should support conservative for “they will still be there, just even more wasteful, ineffective, and damaging to our republic.” I am looking at the word more. So are you saying that even if conservatives run the system the school system will be wasteful, ineffective and damaging just only less? Is conservatism is just statism light, the same collectivist policy just only less intrusive? I have to disagree; both leads down the road to serfdom in the end. I cannot support the conservative if simply if it takes one longer, than trusting the leftist, to travel the same road.


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