School board candidates David Salinas (top left), Satya Chandragiri, Raul Marquez, Marty Heyen, Danielle Bethell and Chuck Lee.
If you’re registered to vote in Marion or Polk County, you’ve likely gotten a ballot for the May 21 special election.
Voters in the Salem-Keizer school district will pick three directors for the board, a volunteer job overseeing Oregon’s second-largest school system with a budget of over $1 billion.
Each candidate must live in the zone they seek to represent on the board, but runs for the seat district-wide. That means you get to vote for all three seats.
Ballots must be received by election day. If you don’t have a stamp, you can drop them at a ballot drop box. Locations include the Roth’s in West Salem for Polk County voters, and Keizer City Hall and the Marion County Clerk’s Office for Marion County voters.
We’ve covered candidates as they’ve announced their campaigns. Here’s a refresher on who’s running.
And if you want to know who’s spending money to get their preferred candidates elected, we’ve got a roundup for you.
Zone 2 – Northeast Salem, including McKay High School
Marty Heyen is seeking a second term on the board. Heyen was first elected in 2015 and unsuccessfully ran for state representative as a Republican in the fall. Her priority on the board is to be a voice for parents, address bullying and continue supporting career programs and other extracurriculars and electives that keep students engaged in school.
Raul Marquez wants to bring a fresh voice to the board. The Willamette University freshman graduated from McKay last year, interns for state Rep. Diego Hernandez, a Portland Democrat, and raised funds last year to build Taylor’s House, a youth homeless shelter. He said he’ll work to engage Latino families and ensure they know the board wants to hear their concerns, as well as pushing the district to distribute resources more equitably.
Zone 4- South Salem, including Sprague High School
Satya Chandragiri is a psychiatrist and parent of South Salem High School graduates who wants to focus on suicide prevention and mental health. He also wants to see more focus on individualized pathways for students through school, and less paperwork and bureaucracy for teachers. Last year, Chandragiri ran as a Republican for state representative in district 19, but lost in the primary.
David Salinas is an electrician and parent of three current Sprague High School students. He previously served on the district’s boundary task force, which helped craft new school attendance boundaries. Salinas comes from a farm working family and dropped out of high school to work. He wants to see more career-technical education programs in the district and mentorship opportunities for students.
This is the only race without an incumbent running. Outgoing Director Jim Green has not endorsed anyone for the seat because of his role as executive director of the Oregon School Boards Association and said he does not plan to.
Zone 6 – Keizer, including McNary High School
Danielle Bethell is the Keizer Chamber of Commerce executive director with three children in local schools. She wants to do more community outreach in Keizer and engage teachers and families there to share concerns. She said the district can micromanage teachers and wants to support them having the freedom to decide how to best teach their students.
Chuck Lee is seeking a fourth term on the board. Lee is the longest-serving school board member and president of the Mountain West Career Technical Institute, the private arm of the district’s Career-Technical Education Center. He said his biggest focus is on student behavioral issues, which are becoming more of a concern for teachers.
Reporter Rachel Alexander: [email protected] or 503-575-1241.
YOUR SUBSCRIPTION WOULD HELP — Salem Reporter relies almost exclusively on reader subscriptions to fund its operations. For $10 a month, you hire our entire news team to work for you all month digging out the news of Salem and state government. You get breaking news alerts, emailed newsletters and around-the-clock access to our stories. We depend on subscribers to pay for in-depth, accurate news. Help us grow and get better with your subscription. Sign up HERE.
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.