Editor's note: The headline for the online version of this editorial was corrected to spell Janet Sarai Llerandi's name correctly.
There may be worse incidents of candidates refusing to answer questions and attend debates. But the worst example we have in Bend is in the current races for Bend-La Pine School Board.
Let’s make it clear right up front who you should vote for Bend schools: Carrie McPherson Douglass, Marcus LeGrand, Shirley Olson and Janet Sarai Llerandi.
The League of Women Voters held a debate. McPherson Douglass, LeGrand, Olson and Llerandi attended. Their opponents did not.
The Bulletin’s editorial board attempted to interview all the candidates running for Bend-La Pine Schools. We had no trouble interviewing McPherson Douglass, LeGrand, Olson and Llerandi . The other four did not respond or responded and then did nothing.
The Bulletin’s news reporting staff attempted to interview all the candidates. McPherson Douglass, LeGrand, Olson and Llerandi all responded. Maria Lopez-Dauenhauer, who is running against Douglass, and Wendy Imel, who is running against Marcus LeGrand, also responded. Gregg Henton and Jon Haffner did not.
We should note that one candidate appearing on the ballot has said he has withdrawn from the race, Cab Burge.
Why have Lopez-Dauenhauer, Imel, Henton and Haffner been less than committed to making themselves available to voters than others? We can speculate, though we don’t know
We can tell you what it means for voters. Voters don’t know enough about who they are and what they stand for. On the school board, you have to be responsive to voters. You have to make yourself available to constituents. They have demonstrated they are not as interested in that. Does it mean that if they are elected they would not engage with constituents? No. But you have four excellent choices who have been forthcoming about who they are and what they stand for.
McPherson Douglass is an incumbent. On a board with a lot of turnover, that matters. It is far from her only qualification. She works with school boards across the country on making them function better. She was born and raised here, which helps. She understands business and finance. Douglass worked hard to reopen schools and keep children and school staff safe. That required working collaboratively, not diktat. And she is committed to ensuring the district serves all students well.
LeGrand is Black and has worked for the last 11 years helping students from a counselor’s perspective, building relationships and helping them overcome barriers. He is the college and career success coach at Central Oregon Community College, and a board member of The Father’s Group — that’s a Bend nonprofit primarily led by Black fathers. He is ideally positioned to know what makes a student ready for college and or other advanced training and how to work with students who might be slipping through the cracks.
Olson spent her career in education — 38 years as school administrator and school consultant. She said one thing her experience has taught her is that the members of the school board won’t necessarily have the answers. They need to ask the right questions. They need to listen to the community. She is very concerned with the loss of learning that students have experienced over the pandemic and wants to work with the district to overcome that.
Llerandi is Latino and works as an administrator for two local education nonprofits Better Together and the Early Learning Hub of Central Oregon. She is also the executive director of Mecca Bend, a Latino-focused nonprofit organization. Llerandi is the parent of two Latino students who are experiencing many of the challenges that other Latino students are facing. She said there is no foolproof way for the district to ensure it serves all students. She would work to ensure it does.
McPherson Douglass, LeGrand, Olson and Llerandi for Bend-La Pine Schools.
And to sum up other endorsements in some local races, we have already endorsed:
- Martha Lawler for the Deschutes Public Library Board.
- Nathan Hovekamp, Zavier Borja and Deb Schoen for board of the Bend Park & Recreation District.
Whatever you may decide, please vote.