One Month Until Election Day

OK, so it's no presidential campaign, but the race for Portland School Board is heating up. Ballots will be due on May 17. There are five candidates for Derry Jackson's seat - and all five will be debating this week.

Who are they?

Steve Buel, a teacher whose campaign is focused on boosting middle schools in low-income Portland.

Juanita Johnson, who works with various community programs that support the families of inmates and at-risk youth.

Steve Kayes, a supervisor for Nabisco in Portland.

Charles McGee III, a freshman at Portland State who recently graduated from the Portland Public Schools.

Dan Ryan, who works as director for development for Portland State, and is campaigning on district-wide all-day kindergarten. Update: The Ryan campaign has asked that we add this: "Dan Ryan is campaigning on the importance of our neighborhood schools and building stability and trust in those schools."

The five-candidate debate will be held this week at the Bus Project's Third Thursday program. April 21, 7:30 p.m., Portland City Hall. Moderated by Jefferson Smith.

Meanwhile, feel free to use this space to pose questions to these five putative leaders of Portland's schools. And, if you're one of the five candidates, introduce yourself. Make your pitch.

  • Yoram (unverified)

    What's up with Steve Buel? Is he related to Ron Buel?

    And what's up with his logo -- two bites of the apple? Is that his slogan? And I suppose I shouldn't ask, but how much do his jowels move when he shakes his head?

    Anyone know these peeps?

  • (Show?)

    I'd like to know how these candidates propose to stem the tide of the 1,000 students who are leaving PPS every year.

  • Aaron (unverified)


    Why not ask Mayor Potter and the other city commissioners on what their economic plans(long and short term) are and how they will work with or conflict with the financial viability and the stability of the 8 school districts that resides in the city of Portland? Yes, people there are eight: Portland, Riverdale, Beaverton, David Douglas, Parkrose, Scappoose, Centennial and Reynolds.

    Furthermore, these economic plans of Portland do have direct impact on the entire metro area; therefore, the effects of these plans are felt on few dozen school districts concurrently or in the near future. Compound the local(city and county) issues with the state issues with funding—the future is dark for education. Several districts are growing in enrollment year over year; but fewer resources from the city, county and state are straining these districts resources. These school boards work very hard with the “resources” that the district has, gets, and plans the usage of these resources. They try to work with and get the superintendent(and support their staff) to implement these plans based on the resources that are currently impacting the district and adjust based on the future trends locally and from the state. Until the local and state economies full rebound, and the Democrats take back the House; the options on how the schools are going to deal with the lack of resources, will be extreme and unconventional.

  • Willie Smith (unverified)

    As one of the people who helped put this together let me lay out the format because I think it is quite interesting:

    Besides opening and closing statement, there are three segments:

    Segment 1: How would you vote? There will be 5 controversial questions, that either have or probably will be brought up by the school board” and all the candidate will be asked to hold up a “yes” or a “no” card to say how they would vote. No spin…no waffling…just “yes” of “no”. After they hold up the cards, they can explain why. Moderated by Joe Baessler and Joe Bolenbaugh.

    Segment 2: Audience questions: Pretty straight forward. Jefferson Smith moderates.

    Segment 3: Former School Board Members. Former school board members, Mark Abrams and Sue Hagmeier will shoot questions at the five candidates. And if you know Mark and Sue…they will be smart…tough…and witty. Misha Isaak, former student rep to the school board moderates.

    If you have e-mail distribution lists, please send this out, I think this will be the best opportunity to see how they candidates really think and operate. Plus it will be fun.

    FYI: After party/post debate discussion at the Lotus!

  • (Show?)

    Steve Buel signs are EVERYWHERE.

  • threefourtwo (unverified)

    fyi - Dan Ryan has a website:

  • (Show?)

    Thanks, threefourtwo. It's now added to the post.

  • (Show?)

    School Board members should represent all of the parents and students across the district.


    1. The enrollment in Portland Public Schools is projected to continue to decrease. Will you support further school closures? Will you support selling off much of the unused real estate?

    2. Will you support Vickie's much needed fiscal effeciencies? Will you keep the best superintendent we've had in a long time through the hard times of doing the right thing and then allow her to build a desirable school system from the inside out?

  • Eric Berg (unverified)

    There are two other contested Portland school board positions on the May 17 ballot. Why aren't candidates for those seats participating in the Bus Project debate?

    And Aaron reminds many Blue Oregon-reading Portlanders something about their city: Most of it east of I-205 (and some east of 82nd) is in four other school districts.

    Anyway, my question is something like this:

    Magnet schools and other schools in the district don't have enough slots. Many parents in the district can't get their kids into the public schools of their choice. It seems to me since some schools in the district use a lottery and have waitning lists, the district knows what types of public schools parents want. Why can't the district meet the needs of these parent. When these Portland parents can't get their kids into the schools of their choice, the district and the City suffer because the kids may end up in private schools and the families may move to the burbs. I don't have kids and, therefore, have never experienced my kids not getting into the two or three public schools of my choice. But this has happened to many parents I know. Even though I don't have kids, I don't want Portland to have more and more neighborhoods without more and more households without children. Good schools, the ones parents want there kid to attend, will keep households with kids in the city.

  • (Show?)

    Excellent question, Eric, and I'll add an adjunct to that.

    Some of us parents want our kids to attend neighborhood schools--those schools that are near us, are integral to our community and to which our kids can walk (not be driven). Yet the District's focus seems to be allocating resources and support to more and more magnet or special-focus schools, at the expense of neighborhood schools.

    Is this a strategy for success for PPS, what are the potential downsides and what happens to if we lose the idea of a general, varied education for young children?

  • Yoram (unverified)

    So.... if I read this right, Steve Beul's got the old crotchety vote, Steve Nabisco has the business vote, Charles has the young Bus vote, Juanita has the women vote, and Dan Ryan has the connected-serious frontrunner vote.


  • (Show?)

    Yoram, I wouldn't be so sure... Steve Buel's certainly got the "put a lawn sign in MY yard!" vote....

    Of course, when handicapping races, it is always important to remember that lawn signs don't actually demonstrate anything other than ability to distribute lawn signs.

    I think the only exception to this rule was the Sam Adams race, where 1) many of them were personally delivered by Sam (and thus were an indicator of his personal door-knocking efforts) and 2) they actually contained a meaningful message, unlike every other lawn sign ever created.

    Buel's do have a message statement on them, but way too small to read at 25 mph.

  • (Show?)


    I guess. I was skeptical of the "Sam's going to S-H-A-K-E Up City Hall" given how long he'd worked there, but it was a genius anti-incumbency campaign by someone who'd worked for the incumbent mayor!

    When I heard the signs were all along the exit ramp to Autzen Stadium, I knew Sam's campaign was incredibly well-organized.

  • Jay Ward (unverified)

    I appreciate all the work the OBP put into the debate last week. I would like to ask you to add some other information to the "update".

    When all the candidates were asked whether they supported the existing board's decision to close neighborhood schools, when doing so contributes to the cynicism and outmigration of district students, Ryan was the only candidate who supported Superintendent Phillips' decision.

    In fact, he described it as (everbody repeat now) "leadership". The other candidates spoke of the importance of getting buy-in from the affected communities. And only Buel declared himself willing to challenge the assumptions the district and board are making.

    That's why I was out in the rain pounding lawn signs last Saturday.

  • Karin (unverified)

    Thanks, Jay, for that useful information on Dan Ryan's position. I'm browsing these comments because I'm undecided between Buel, Ryan, and McGee.

    In the voter pamphlet, Ryan didn't mention school closings, but he did support full-day kindergarten. Why bother with kindergarten when great small schools are closing?

    At this point, I'm leaning toward Buel.... but does anyone know him personally? Is he going to do a good job? Thanks for any input.

  • kebrina (unverified)

    somebody please tell me a little bit about Steve Kayes...he came to my door with wife and child--what is he all about? better than steve buel???

open discussion

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