Keizer Chamber director Danielle Bethell announces run for school board

Danielle Bethell, executive director of Keizer’s Chamber of Commerce, is running for Salem-Keizer school board (Courtesy/Danielle Bethell)

The executive director of Keizer’s Chamber of Commerce says she’d do a better job representing the city on the Salem-Keizer school board.

Danielle Bethell is challenging Chuck Lee, the district’s longest-serving board member, for his seat in a May board election. Three of the seven seats are up for election.

With children at Forest Ridge Elementary School, Whiteaker Middle School and McNary High School, Bethell said she’s more in touch with the realities of the current classroom and wants to advocate for families and teachers in Keizer.

“I offer a different perspective, a more current perspective,” she said.

School board members represent a specific area, but are elected districtwide. Lee announced last week he intended to seek a fourth term on the board.

Bethell said she’s a fan of Superintendent Christy Perry, but feels the district as a whole micromanages teachers in a way that’s counterproductive.

“Our teachers are significantly challenged by the limitations they’re provided to have ownership in their classrooms,” she said. “I just really want to see our teachers have a say again.”

Her fifth-grade daughter has benefitted from teachers who have recognized she doesn’t perform well when sitting down in a chair and give her challenges to learn.

“I don’t think that teachers should be backed into the corner in their ability to be creative in the classroom,” she said.

Bethell said Lee has done a good job advocating for students across the district. As a board member, she said she’d work on community outreach in Keizer, something she has experience with through her work on the chamber. That would include conversations where parents and teachers could discuss challenges and goals, she said.

“I have seen how people in Keizer will show up if they’re emotionally invested,” she said.

Filing for candidates open Sat., Feb. 9.

Reporter Rachel Alexander: (503) 575-1241 or [email protected]

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Rachel Alexander is Salem Reporter’s managing editor. She joined Salem Reporter when it was founded in 2018 and covers city news, education, nonprofits and a little bit of everything else. She’s been a journalist in Oregon and Washington for a decade. Outside of work, she’s a skater and board member with Salem’s Cherry City Roller Derby and can often be found with her nose buried in a book.