Eugene School Board Chair Jim Torrey is facing some competition for his spot this year. Kevin Cronin, regional field director for the Democratic Party of Oregon and "Best Local Hellraiser" in EW's Best of Eugene, entered the fray and filed for Position #5 on the Eugene School Board on March 18, creating a Facebook page and running on a platform revolving around funding. He says on his gofundme page:
I am running to eliminate the root of 4J’s funding problems - Measure 5. Measures 5, 47, and 50 cripple local revenues, cutting local funding for schools. State revenue isn’t always reliable, and 4J has sought alternative funding methods in the past. Before my first term is over, I will organize a coalition of school boards, community organizations, and responsible Oregonians who believe in overturning the failed policies that got us into this mess.
In an email to EW, Cronin says he's running because Oregon's school system is broken. "I went to high school here in Oregon and I dropped out in the 9th grade," he writes. "I eventually went to community college, then graduated from the University of Oregon in 2013. The 4J Board does not have any young people serving on it. I can be the voice the board lacks. I know first hand how our schools fail young people."
Meanwhile, Eugene musician, parent and college student David Nickles made his school board announcment after Cronin's, citing his motivation to run based on his lack of choice when he was a 4J student.
On his Wordpress website, he says:
You might ask how 4J failed me. The answer: Lack of choice. The one-size-fits-all approach to education may work for the majority, but is pure oppression to the greatest minority of all: The minority of the individual.
Unchallenged by the curriculum and without options, I quickly lost the passion for learning that my parents worked so hard to instill. School, for students like me, became a sobering lesson in the insanity of the omnipotent state. Our public schools are a tragedy, and simply throwing more money at a broken system is not the solution that our students deserve.
My solution? Choice.
My opponents, incumbent “conservative” Jim Torrey and Democratic Party insider Kevin Cronin, will speak of taxes and budget shortfalls. I, however, will be speaking about choice.
Jim Torrey, former mayor of Eugene, has served on the 4J board in Position #5 since 2007 and currently serves as chair.
Eileen Nittler is campaigning for Position #4 on the 4J school board to fill the spot of Craig Smith, who is not seeking reelection. Also running for Position #4 are Scott Landgreen and John A. Baumann, a retired doctor.
And there's one other contested race: Incumbent Mary Walston will run for Position #7 against candidate Colin Farnsworth, Oregon coordinator for national civil rights group People Against the National Defense Authorization Act.
The deadline to file for 4J School Board has passed, and the election is May 19.