Out of the eight candidates vying for three Bend-La Pine School Board seats in the May 21 election, only half have reported receiving campaign contributions so far. And the two candidates who have raised the most cash are running for the same seat: Andy High and Shimiko Montgomery.
High, the only incumbent running for reelection, has racked up $24,670 in cash contributions and $974.43 in in-kind contributions, according to the Oregon Secretary of State’s Office. Some of the contributions to High are from local Republican politicians. High was given $500 from the campaign groups of both former Oregon state Rep. and gubernatorial candidate Knute Buehler and failed Bend City Council candidate Sarah McCormick. Former Deschutes County Commissioner Tammy Baney also gave High $500 — half under her own name, half from her campaign — and he received $250 from Bend city Councilor Bill Moseley. State Rep. Mike McLane, R-Powell Butte, gave High $1,000.
High, the owner of Thompson Pump and Irrigation, also received funds from the real estate industry: $1,500 from Hayden Homes, $500 from Woodhill Homes and $5,000 from Pahlisch Homes. Other major contributions to High’s campaign included $5,000 from Bend resident Rebecca Jones; $2,500 from Rob Freres, president of Lyons-based Freres Lumber Co.; and $1,000 from James Young, founder of Lebanon manufacturing company ENTEK.
Meanwhile, over half of Montgomery’s $14,918 in cash contributions came from one source: Bend resident Lawrence Akin Hatch, who gave the pastor $8,000. She also received union support, with $2,500 from the state teachers union’s political action committee and $400 from Elizabeth Weltin, a labor representative with the Oregon Nurses Association who also served as the campaign manager for Eileen Kiely, the Sunriver Democrat who lost to Republican Jack Zika in the 53rd House District race in 2018.
Montgomery also received $1,500 from Bend kidney doctor Richard Kebler and a $500 in-kind donation from the Deschutes County Democratic Central Committee.
Both Montgomery and High are running for the Zone 3 seat, which represents a region covering downtown and south-central Bend, along with Deschutes River Woods.
The only other candidate to generate five figures in funding is speech-language pathologist Caroline Skidmore, who’s received $10,327.20 in cash contributions. Her biggest contributions include $2,500 from the statewide teachers union, $1,500 from Kebler, $1,000 from San Mateo, California, resident Gloria Wolfenden, who is listed as “immediate family” on the secretary of state’s website, and $1,000 from Bend attorney David Sandborg.
Neither of her opponents, Chet Liew and former Bend city Councilor Mark Capell, have reported any contributions to the Secretary of State’s Office. The three candidates are running for the Zone 1 seat vacated by Rep. Cheri Helt, R-Bend, which represents northwest Bend.
In the third contested Bend-La Pine race, for the at-large Zone 6 seat, Melissa Barnes Dholakia has reported a $500 in-kind contribution from the Deschutes County Democratic Central Committee and $300 in cash contributions. Neither Mike Way nor Richard Asadoorian have reported any contributions to the Secretary of State’s Office.
For the Zone 5 seat, which represents much of east Bend, family nurse practitioner Amy Tatom has not reported any contributions to the Secretary of State’s Office. However, the previously unopposed candidate has a challenger with a write-in campaign: Stay-at-home mother Kerry Blomgren.
Blomgren, 46, who lives east of Bend and has one son in sixth grade at Redmond Proficiency Academy, told The Bulletin that she began a write-in campaign because she noticed Tatom was running unopposed and wanted to give voters a second option, but didn’t decide to run until after the ballots had been finalized. She touted her listening and communication abilities, along with her plans to support mental health services in schools.
One major difference between Blomgren and Tatom is their views on vaccines. At the April 9 Bend-La Pine School Board meeting, Tatom spoke in favor of the now-dead House Bill 3063, which would have removed nonmedical exemptions for vaccinations.
Blomgren said she isn’t in favor of removing those vaccine exemptions, and that parents should decide whether or not to vaccinate their children.
“I like the idea of vaccines, for sure, but I’m not sure that they are as safe and effective as they’re touted,” she said.
— Reporter: 541-617-7854, firstname.lastname@example.org
Editor’s note: This article has been corrected. The original version misstated the amount of money raised by several candidates. The Bulletin regrets the error.