Candidates for local school boards and the Central Oregon Community College board of directors began filing for office Monday, and the first declared candidates include a married couple and a stay-at-home mother, all of whom have experience volunteering in local education.
Amy and Oliver Tatom, both 39, filed to run for Bend-La Pine Schools’ and COCC’s boards, respectively. Amy Tatom is a family nurse practitioner and serves on both the St. Charles Medical Group board of directors and Bend-La Pine’s budget committee. Oliver Tatom is a paramedic and a nursing student at COCC, where he’s the president of the 2019 nursing class. He plans to graduate from the program in June.
The couple met in Los Angeles while studying at University of Southern California and University of California, Los Angeles, and now live in rural Deschutes County, southeast of Bend. They have two children, who starting next year, will attend second grade and kindergarten at Silver Rail Elementary.
Amy Tatom, a San Diego native, said she hoped to bring her expertise from the medical field to help Bend-La Pine’s students thrive and stay healthy.
“I feel there’s a huge connection between health care and education,” she said. “Kids who get plenty of food and sleep and emotional support are more successful in school, and healthier students turn into healthier adults,” she said.
She is running for Ron Gallinat’s seat on the board, which represents much of southeast and midtown Bend. Gallinat, who has served on the board since 2007, said he won’t run for re-election.
Oliver Tatom, who grew up in Bend and graduated from Bend High School, said that if elected, he hoped to bring on-campus child care to COCC — something he’s already fighting for — provide more opportunities for rural students and expand weekend and online courses. He is running for board member Vikki Ricks’ seat, which represents south Deschutes County.
“Being a student leader on campus, I’ve gotten to know COCC quite well,” he said. “With Vikki deciding not to run for re-election … this is just an opportunity that I didn’t want to pass up.”
Meanwhile, Tasha McFarland, 43, is trying to replace another departing Bend-La Pine board member, Peggy Kinkade, whose seat is at-large, meaning it does not represent a specific geographic area of the district.
Since moving to Bend 11 years ago after growing up in Eugene and living in Sisters, McFarland has been deeply involved in volunteering at local schools. She was involved in parent-teacher groups at both Lava Ridge Elementary and Sky View Middle School and served on the elementary attendance area and school naming committees for Bend’s newest elementary school, expected to open in September.
Like Amy Tatom, McFarland has also been on the district’s budget committee, and has served as the group’s chairwoman for three years.
Her four children all attend schools in northeast Bend — a junior at Mountain View High School, a sixth- and eighth-grader at Sky View and a third-grader at Lava Ridge.
She said her experience working with staff and students throughout the years in Bend has given her the experience necessary to serve on the school board.
“I’m familiar with the way the schools work, but also I’ve developed a real love for the people in Bend-La Pine Schools,” McFarland said. “Because I’ve worked with them, I know them and care about them, both personally and as a group.”
McFarland added that because she oversees children’s programs for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Bend and La Pine, she knows many families in the region already.
She said creating a better city starts with a strong school district.
“I want to improve the education system and the Bend-La Pine school district, not only so that I can have four children that are well-educated, but also so I can live in a beautiful community,” she said.
Along with Kinkade and Gallinat’s open positions on the Bend-La Pine School Board, Cheri Helt’s seat will also be available after she announced her resignation in January due to her election to the state Legislature.
Board Chairman Andy High is running for re-election this May, meaning there will be four school board seats on the ballot.
At COCC, apart from Ricks’ seat, Bruce Abernethy and Jim Clinton, who was appointed to the board last month after John Mundy’s sudden departure, are up for re-election.
There will also be two board positions for the Redmond, Jefferson County, Culver and Sisters school districts and three in Crook County School District on the May ballot.
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