This Siuslaw News Voter Guide includes information on each of the races in the May 18 Special Election. This guide provides a description of the boards and the names of those running for positions on western Lane County’s boards and commissions.
While many of the candidates are running unopposed, three districts have contested races. The Siuslaw News invited the candidates from these three — Lane Community College Board of Education, Lane Education Service District Board of Directors and the Siuslaw School District Board of Directors — to answer questions and give more information. This is an opportunity for voters to read about the backgrounds and beliefs of people who will shape the community for the next four years.
Voters in Lane County will begin to receive their ballots this week. Completed ballots can then be mailed to Lane County Elections, 275 W 10th Ave., Eugene OR 97401, or dropped off at the Lane County Elections official ballot drop box at the Florence Municipal Court, 900 Greenwood St. in Florence, by 8 p.m. on Election Day, Tuesday, May 18.
Information included in this guide came from lanecounty.org/elections and the candidates and their campaigns. Our thanks to the candidates who provided this information to readers in the Siuslaw region.
This guide will be available to view at TheSiuslawNews.com.
Disclaimer: Siuslaw News is not endorsing any candidate or measure included in its election coverage. Any views or opinions stated are exclusively those of the individuals themselves. Siuslaw News cannot be held responsible for the accuracy or reliability of information submitted by the individuals.
Lane Community College Board of Education has primary authority for establishing policies governing the operation of the college and for adopting the college’s annual budget. The board’s charge is to oversee the development of programs and services that board members believe will best serve the needs of the people of the Lane Community College district.
The Lane Community College District serves a 5,000 square-mile area stretching from the Pacific Ocean to the Cascade Mountains. The district includes most of Lane County.
Seven elected, non-paid persons comprise the board of education and have primary authority for establishing policies governing the operation of the college and adopting the college’s annual budget. Their charge is to oversee the development of programs and services which they believe will best serve the needs of the people of the Lane District.
Board positions represent geographical zones, with Zone 1 consisting of western Lane County. In this election, three candidates are running for Director Zone 1: Mark Boren, Thomas Jennings and incumbent Holli Johnson, who was appointed in March.
Learn more at www.lanecc.edu.
Candidates were asked to provide brief bios and answer the following questions:
— Boren —
Mark Boren grew up in the Bethel School District, graduating from Willamette High School in 1986. He met his wonderful wife in P.E. class, and they have been together for the past 38 years.
The family moved to Veneta about 30 years ago and raised 5 children that all went through the Fern Ridge School District.
Boren began his career in the fire service as a volunteer with what was then called Lane County Fire District #1 in 1997. He retired in 2018 after 15 years as the training officer and currently works part-time as the recruitment/retention coordinator for what is now Lane Fire Authority.
He is proud to say that his son is currently volunteering with the fire authority and three of his daughters volunteered in the past.
Before working for Lane Fire Authority, Boren worked for 15 years in special education as an instructional assistant for the Lane ESD. He worked at Willamette High School, Thurston High School and Cal Young Middle School.
In his spare time, Boren enjoys spending time with his family and attending athletic events around Lane County.
“I hope I can earn your support,” he said.
I can see more partnerships with local business and organizations such as Connected Lane County that have programs like Elevate and LaneStem.
— Jennings —
Thomas Jennings has been a Florence resident for majority of his life. It’s where he and his wife have raised their five children.
Jennings has experience with coastal community colleges, having attended both Southwestern Oregon Community College and LCC at the Florence campus right out of high school.
He is a graduate of the Pacific Inside Joint Apprenticeship Trust program in Coos Bay as a licensed General Journeyman Electrician.
What are the most important objectives for the upcoming term?
My objective would be to make sure a balance is maintained between not only the important traditional college classes, but also classes that create access to trades, job skills and business growth.
What do you anticipate being the biggest challenge?
Navigating the challenges of COVID-19 will be the biggest immediate challenge. Beyond that, getting students that need it, the opportunity to attend classes on campus safely.
— Johnson —
Holli Johnson was appointed to the LCC Board on March 3.
She said in her application, “As a woman of color living in a predominantly white community, it is my goal to represent all ethnic groups in an equitable and just fashion.”
Johnson has worked in education for 25 years. She currently coordinates the African American/Black Student Success Program for Lane ESD, serving 16 K-12 school districts in Lane County, since 2019. Before that she worked at the University of Oregon for 13 years in the Office of Student Financial Aid and Scholarships.
She has previous board experience on the Oregon Association of Financial Aid Administrators. She is also current chair for the Education Committee of the Eugene-Springfield NAACP and is the educational director at St. Mark CME Church in Eugene.
A community college graduate, Johnson holds a Master of Education in Adult Education and Higher Learning from Oregon State University; a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from the University of Oregon; and an Associate of Arts in Sociology from San Diego City College.
There are only a few limitations that worry me about serving in this position. When there are only 1 or 2 people of color in the room, there are not enough voices at the table who share the same values which could cause the vote to be swayed. I represent the minority population, but I alone cannot make change happen. For example, my voice alone is not enough to represent a historically underrepresented group in this community. We need more representation.
The board of education at LCC plays an integral part on the increase of tuition hikes, but we also support student success and together we make informed decisions as they pertain to best outcomes.
Another concern is that as we go through these tough times, some programs will be cut I expect that the board will be faced with some tough decisions about which programs should be sustained and which programs should be scaled back.
I value adult & continuing ed programs and I will use my voting powers to vote against their abolishment and I vow to help keep those programs alive.