OP-ED: A Blue-Ribbon Team for Beaverton School BoardWashCo Dems op-ed article

By Stefan Jones, Washington County Democrats Communications Team Volunteer and Martita Meier, 1st Vice-Chair

The grueling 2020 election season and the terrible events in D.C. in January have left many people wanting to take a rest from politics. However, there’s little time to rest. Our next election coming up in Oregon on May 18th, and there are important votes on the ballot!

Participation in “off-year” elections is very poor, hovering around 20% turnout with many positions on the ballot left blank. But it is these very elections that determine who sets policies in our schools, parks and rec districts, and in city government.

Most of the open seats in the 2021 elections in Washington County are for the school boards. School board members make decisions that have far reaching effects on students, families, and communities.

The decisions they make determine the quality of education students get which impacts their future, and the future of our students, is the future of our communities, our state, and our country.

We’d like to talk today about a crucial set of races, for the Beaverton City School Board.

  • Susan Greenberg, Beaverton School Board, Zone 1
    Susan has the endorsement of the Washington County Democrats
  • Karen Perez-Da Silva, Beaverton School Board, Zone 2
    Karen has the endorsement of the Washington County Democrats (see her interview here!)
  • Sunita Garg, Beaverton School Board Zone, 4
  • Ugonna Eniyinnaya, Beaverton School Board, Zone 5

These candidates have all been endorsed by Washington County Chair Kathryn Harrington, Washington County Commissioner Nafisa Fai, Mayor Lacey Beaty, City Councilor Nadia Hasan, and THPRD President Ashley Hartmeier-Prigg.

An important topic this year: Covid, and getting kids back to school

Progressive candidates want to get students back in class. We all know that this time during the pandemic it has been tough on both students and parents. Students are excited to see their friends again, and parents want their kids to get the best education possible. As Progressives, we care about how to best serve parents, their children; our communities, and their health.

These progressive candidates of the Beaverton School District are committed to safely bringing our kids back to school while minding the feedback we receive from scientists and medical experts. Timing is everything, and we need responsible electeds who will open the schools in a timely and responsible manner.
You can count on these four candidates to get your kids back to school safely.

You might be wondering why Karen and Susan are endorsed by the WashCo Dems, but not Ugonna and Sunita?

The Washington County Democrats have an endorsement process that has traditionally wrapped at the end of our March Central Committee meeting. There are a few deadlines candidates work to meet in order to feature their endorsements in as many venues as possible. There is the deadline to get into the voter pamphlet, and the Washington County Democrats (as we print slate cards), also have to get those printed and distributed for our Neighborhood Leader Program volunteers.

For those of you who may be newer to politics: being someone who is a great fit for holding an office, i.e.: relevant background, strong depth and intersectionality of understanding… does not mean you automatically know all there is to know about being a candidate.

This year is special. Many local electeds and activists worked to engage our diverse communities to find great candidates who are excited to do the work to bring diversity, equity, and inclusion to our school boards.  Sunita and Ugonna said yes, and have been on a whirlwind ride, learning the ropes of candidacy as they headed the call of their communities.

Many of our fellow Washington County Democrats support all four of these candidates for their progressive values. These four women are running together on a platform of progressive values, and as such, as a vice-chair of the party, I want to encourage support Sunita and Ugonna as we get out the vote for this election. 

headshot of Sunita Garg
Learn more about Sunita
Learn more about Ugonna

Sunita says:

My biggest priority in this campaign is to make sure that all children receive a good quality education. Good quality education can mean different things to different people. To me, it means that they have access to the tools for academic accomplishment and achievement into their next journey after K-12. Our duty is that our children are ready for college, university, or the workforce. If elected as the next School Board Member, I will be laser-focused on ensuring that our students have a solid foundation to reach their best potential. Good quality education also means comprehensive education that incorporates opportunities to learn music, language studies, and extracurricular activities. But most importantly, we need children to embrace the value and importance of education and its enduring lifetime impacts on the love for learning. We want them to be critical thinkers who ask good questions to make good choices in life; to be kind, compassionate, and respectful to themselves and others in the community.

How do we make this happen?

  • We support our educators by providing them resources to fund, hire and retain good educators. Additionally, children will thrive in their learning environment when we invest in the infrastructure that includes building and maintaining the classrooms and student culture.
  • We support Parents/Caregivers by acknowledging and realizing the diversity of Beaverton district. There are 104 languages spoken, 55% are BIPOC, and 36% of children qualify for free and reduced languages. One solution will not fit for all students. We have to work with parents to make them feel comfortable attending school events and communicate and work with teachers relating to their child’s concerns and issues they may be facing. 
  • We collaborate with the community to help schools and children in the district. The community can step in as a volunteer in the school, make donations, help to fundraise, and in many different ways.
  • We should work with non-profit organizations and for-profit organizations working for children.

Ugonna says:

I am running for Beaverton School board to represent our underserved communities by championing equity and diversity. As a parent of a student with special needs, I am aware of  the importance of equity in education which requires we understand the unique challenges and barriers faced by students with disabilities, students from ethnic or racial minority backgrounds, low income backgrounds, and English language learners. I am running for students like my son, students with autism, dyslexia, intellectual disability or any other form of learning challenge.

I am running to eliminate racial inequities that exist within our school system especially in the disciplinary policies that disproportionately impact students of color. Statistics show a trend of criminalization that involves a growing use of zero tolerance policies that tends to marginalize students of color and deny them access to education. These unequal treatments can start as early as preschool and continue throughout  a child’s education. Imagine the emotional and mental trauma that could inflict on the child.

In the words of the Maya Angelou “Prejudice is a burden that confuses the past, threatens the future, and renders the present inaccessible”. The future of our brown and black students is at stake, their present is dissipating and it’s time to put their best interest at the front line, reimagine a different and better future for them.

I am running to bridge the diversity gap in the school board and in our school system. To bring fresh perspectives and elevate new voices in our community.

I hope that you will join me in making the Beaverton school district a place where every student, irrespective of their background, is able to thrive and maximize their full potential.

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Friends, the good news is this: Local elections are easily won by giving a candidate a little name recognition. Many people don’t vote for local races — which are often non-partisan — because they have no idea who the candidates are. Having seen a yard sign or having a piece of literature dropped off by a volunteer, can put a name in a voter’s head. Come election day, the voter will think “Oh, sure, I liked what she had to say,” and fill in a bubble rather than pass on the race entirely.

Here is how you can help:

* Volunteer for a campaign. Literature drops are pandemic-safe way of getting the word out and are good exercise!
* Donate to a campaign. Just a few dollars in a local campaign can make a big difference.
* Buy and display a lawn sign.
* Mention to friends & relations the importance of voting in local races.
* And of course, vote for the candidates once you get your mail-in ballot!

Join us at our next CC meeting April 28th. We may have an opportunity to vote to formally endorse these two candidates at that time, so join us if you are interested in these great candidates getting a formal WashCo Dem endorsement that they can share in their mailers and online.

Click here to see the May 2021 Washington County Dems Endorsements