Guest Column

It was difficult reading the guest column from the four school board candidates last Saturday, not because of the empty political rhetoric, but because these “real parents, not politicians” use the very tactics they claim to oppose. What remained unsaid is substantially more informative.

They suggested an April 21 email impacted their decision to skip a local nonpartisan forum — scheduled the next day — though they had already ignored multiple phone and email invitations. They didn’t mention the mailer sent by Maria Lopez-Dauenhauer that was littered with inflammatory personal attacks and mailed so haphazardly that voters outside the district received it. They failed to acknowledge abhorrent posts from a Twitter account listed as Gregg Henton (@gregghsunriver) with a profile picture that appeared to be Henton. While he denied this 6-year-old account was his, it was deleted the day the candidates were asked about it.

One of the most troubling aspects, not only of their column, but of their social media platforms, is the shameless way they have sanitized — then weaponized — the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. to buffer themselves from criticism they would undoubtedly receive for their “racism no longer exists” approach.

They pretend to have an ally because of his aspirational dream that “people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character,” while ignoring his other indicting words that offer a contextual backdrop: “The problems of racial injustice and economic injustice cannot be solved without a radical redistribution of political and economic power.” There are also these challenging words: “These conditions are the things that cause individuals to feel that they have no other alternative than to engage in violent rebellions to get attention. And I must say tonight that a riot is the language of the unheard.” The contrast couldn’t be more stark, given their joint website’s assertion that protests are “angry and uninformed mobs, misguided by divisive theories and ill-suited with useless degrees for gainful employment and productive lives.”

They do not have a friend in Martin Luther King Jr. but rather a figure who would have decried their opportunism and refusal to engage in an honest, historical accounting.

They have simultaneously attempted to create a litmus test out of the manufactured specter of critical race theory, while refusing to discuss it beyond using it as a political epithet. Sadly, they haven’t demonstrated any curiosity about the lived experiences of students in our school district who have been pushed to the margins. They’ve offered caustic critiques of proposed remedies, while ignoring the underlying issues that demand our unflinching engagement.

Additionally, the “not politicians” are propped up by a local political action committee, United 4 Education, that emerged in April. Within a recent week stretch, this PAC spent $43,000 in advertising/consulting for these candidates — with $11,250 going to a Colorado company dedicated to Republican interests. After repeatedly ignoring local media and nonpartisan groups, they’ve been on national Fox News shows twice. Even more damning, for all the talk of engaging parents, they haven’t participated beyond scripted responses, and some have turned off commenting on various social media posts.

These school board candidates have already spent in excess of $72,000 on consulting/advertising alone, with United 4 Education recently spending an additional $22,283 for “broadcast advertising,” though it’s not clear from the filing who the beneficiary will be. If you believe this is about the education of children in our district, I have four board seats to sell you — if you can come up with roughly $100,000. Apparently, that is what they are going for these days.

Timothy Hellman lives in Bend.

(1) comment

Tom Pained

I think we can sum up Timothy's most salient point in one sentence: If they won't take questions from the public, they certainly don't intend to be answerable to the public.

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