Mark Watson, Hillsboro School Board, Position 2 – Candidate Interview
By Nathan Sosa, WCD Communications Team volunteer
WCD: What first inspired you to run for office?
MW: It started when my wife and I celebrated our anniversary by visiting Washington D.C. in 2016. I was inspired by our historical leaders. When I returned home, I was looking for an opportunity to get involved. I grew up in a working-class household in the Chicago area. My dad was born on a farm in Alabama and never finished high school. For me, education was a way out. That’s why I went to college and earned my master’s degree. So, when the opportunity presented itself to serve on the Board of Directors for the Hillsboro School District, I decided to run because education has always been an important part of my life.
WCD: What accomplishment are you most proud of during your first term?
MW: There are so many things I am proud of as a member of the board. Our graduation rates have risen. We passed the construction bond. We’ve encouraging diversity amongst our teachers. I’m also proud of our response to COVID-19 crisis. Overall, I think our board is working very well with the district and we’re moving in the right direction.
WCD: What strengths do you bring to the school board?
MW: I am the only board member who has a background as a small business owner. I bring that unique perspective to the board. I am also very interested in legislation and I serve on the legislative policy committee of the Oregon School Board Association.
WCD: What are the biggest challenges facing the Hillsboro School District and how do you plan to address them?
MW: Getting students back to school safely is our biggest challenge. Having in-person instruction is vital. We’re planning to have everyone back in their classrooms by the fall. In the meantime, we are trying to maximize the number of students who can return to their schools. The board itself cannot control that process, but we do have a role to play. Officially, board members hire the superintendent and provide feedback and guidance. Unofficially, board members can also be voices of support in the community.
WCD: How do your values and those of the Democratic party align?
MW: My values align very closely with those of the Democratic Party. I reviewed the Washington County Democratic Party’s platform during the endorsement process and was glad to check the “agree” box. As a gray-haired white man, I approach topics related to equity and women’s issues with an open mind. I always try to listen more than I talk.
WCD: Is there anything we haven’t covered that you want voters to know about you?
MW: I grew up in a working-class family. I’ve experienced what it’s like to be unemployed. I got laid off from Intel in the early 2000s. If not for unemployment benefits, I wouldn’t have been able to pay my mortgage. I know what that feels like. I also value reaching across the aisle. It is difficult to tell a poor white person that they’re better off because they’re white. They often don’t believe that. I can speak to those who are struggling.
Learn more about Mark Watson, Candidate for Hillsboro School Board, Position 2, at his campaign website.