School Board for the Win!

One last batch of letters before the May 16 election


Rick Hamilton is the leader we need for the Eugene School Board. With better leadership, we can have a better board — one that focuses on kids and education.

Hamilton retired from a 30-year career in public service including serving on the Oregon State Police’s first-ever Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Team. Hamilton is a longtime reading and literacy volunteer with kids and coached youth basketball. He has energy, vision, and integrity plus good humor and experience in tough situations. Hamilton knows our community and he cares. I believe him when he says he will put our kids and their education first.

I’m bothered by the board’s recurring open meetings violations. I’m distressed that this board has gone backwards on efforts to address long-standing equity issues among Eugene schools like ensuring students have an equivalent amount of instructional time or prioritizing common access to a curriculum recommended by teachers, especially in reading. I want a board that considers kids and families in the entire district and has high expectations for student success.

Let’s elect a leader who will keep the focus on kids and bring people together. That’s why I’m voting for Hamilton.

Betsy Boyd


In your May 4 Slant, you made the statement that you would not endorse hate. That is why I was surprised to see you endorsing someone who was also endorsed by the most hateful mailing I have received this year. I am talking about Rick Hamilton and his endorsement by the Oregon Family Council in their mailer labeled “The last line of defense is local school boards.”

One side of the postcard had all the scary statements such as “Parents, faculty divided on school district’s new pronoun policy,” and “Science shows transgender education doesn’t belong in schools.”

Is it possible that the Oregon Family Council knows something about Hamilton that we don’t? Maybe all his talk about diversity doesn’t include the LGBTQ community. Maybe they just wanted to give their mailer some credibility by including him. Maybe it was just because his opponent, Gorgon Lafer, is endorsed by the Democratic Party Stonewall Caucus. Who knows?

One thing I do know is that I have been around long enough to have witnessed more than a few policemen lie under oath. (They call it testilying.) Because of that, I don’t trust anything that is said by someone from the law enforcement community.

Steven Hiatt

Editor’s note: Hamilton has repeatedly disavowed seeking or approving the Oregon Family Council endorsement. His campaign website does not list the OFC among his many progressive supporters.


School board elections are important. As a parent, educator and elected official I am keenly aware of the need for thoughtful, visionary, and focused leadership at the policy level. This is why I am endorsing Rick Hamilton for election to the Eugene School District 4J Board. I have known Hamilton and his family for more than two decades. He has demonstrated his commitment to public education, student success and diversity as a volunteer in the school system and as a youth athletic coach. He has influenced the lives of multiple students through his activism and his professional career as a 30-year plus Oregon State Trooper.

I have worked closely with Hamilton in numerous roles over the years as a leader in the Eugene/Springfield BIPOC community. Hamilton’s steady calm demeanor underscores the style of leadership needed on the Eugene 4J School Board at this critical juncture in the changing environment in public education. Hamilton’s tireless work in the areas of diversity, equity and inclusion are needed in moving this district forward.

Hamilton is the right leader at the right time to help move the Eugene 4J School District into a thriving, robust and successful future for our students and community.

Greg Evans, M.Ed.
Eugene City Councilor, Ward 6


I had many roles during my 25 years as an educator in Eugene: classroom teacher, teacher on special assignment for instruction as well as interim building administrator. School District 4J has always been an outstanding school district but it has not always served its diverse population of students equitably.

On May 16, Eugene voters will decide who will fill four open spots on the Eugene School Board. Gordon Lafer, current vice president of the board, is running for re-election. Lafer brings a wealth of experience to the role. His background as an advocate for workers’ rights demonstrates his commitment to economic justice. His tireless dedication to the students of 4J over the past four years shows his passion for high-quality instruction that is founded on inclusion and sensitivity to all children.

Lafer is a supportive colleague to fellow board members and a leader for the rights of students who identify as BIPOC, LGBTQ+ and ASD, and students who have historically underrepresented religious, cultural or ethnic backgrounds. Because of his dedication to making our schools a place where every child can thrive, Lafer has my vote. I hope you will consider giving him yours.

Mary Bauer


The 4J community cannot afford to lose Gordon Lafer on the school board right now. He’s a strong advocate for students and their families and maintaining the continuity of his hard work is needed in these challenging times. Yes, the board’s work, like democracy itself, can be messy. Let’s vote to keep Gordon working on the difficult issues during this critical time.

Melissa Bradley


I’ve given thought to Eugene Weekly’s endorsement of Rick Hamilton for the 4J Board and I hope that he will continue to be a moving force in our community for the necessary changes we need in both our attitudes and our ways of dealing with mental illness, responses to stress, and our broken systems that have overall, shown proof that they do not work. 

However, for our 4J School Board, I believe we need to keep Gordon Lafer in his position for another term. I’ve had opportunities to talk with him about problems that need to be faced and have also listened to him speak about both labor and education issues and taking a look at change processes. 

Beyond his wealth of knowledge is a strong, compassionate listening. Through the years I’ve learned that this is driven by Lafer’’s desire to build strong community, while respecting each person for what each can bring to make the whole community better. That may be why he has chosen his path to be in education and labor. I believe it is why he has the reputation of being attentive and respectful on the board, and can be heard providing support to individuals and groups, students, parents, community volunteers, paraprofessionals and other educators. Yes, our 4J Board and our administration have had much turmoil and need more organization. But that is why we need Lafer  and his type of stability there for another term.

Georgiann Jones
Educator, Learner, Social Activist, Trainer/Practitioner of Restorative Practices and Restorative Justice Conferencing


Are you a voter who takes a dim view of jails and police? If so, and if you were planning to vote “no” on the Lane County Jail Levy in the May election, please read on and reconsider. With several of my Santa Clara neighbors, I recently toured the jail. We were pleasantly surprised by what we saw and learned.

More than half of the inmates in our Lane County Jail (LCJ) have mental health and/or addiction issues. Recognizing and grappling with this, the Sheriff’s Department has developed programs for mental, physical and emotional wellness. These programs are rooted in the understanding that punitive imprisonment fails to prepare people to participate in society in healthy ways and exacerbates the mental health problems of some vulnerable individuals.

LCJ’s programs are geared to help inmates get on a path towards healing and reintegrating into society. These programs are so effective that LCJ has become a national leader. Of course, in an ideal world, the jail wouldn’t be a main provider of mental health services for the poor. But we don’t live in that ideal world, and if this levy doesn’t pass, a whole lot of folks will lose services. The jail levy has the endorsement of the Lane County Democratic Party and local mental health service providers and activists.

Please support mental health care for some of our community’s neediest people by voting “yes” on Measure 20-340. This is a renewal of an existing levy and will not raise your taxes.

Dawn Lesley


Recent public defacing of campaign signs in north Eugene along the Oakway Golf Course fence show a level of intolerance that has no place in local politics. Eugene prides itself on inclusion and supposed fairness in politics. Yet, we are now seeing a level of destruction of campaign signs that we haven’t seen before.

A local resident captured the vandals on camera, who appear to be dressed in black, literally defacing two campaign signs for two local District 4J School Board candidates, Michael Bratland and Timothy Sutherland. Three people in black are captured on camera destroying two campaign signs. 

It is a shame that this kind of thing is happening in what is described as a “progressive” and “tolerant” Eugene. It reflects badly on our community and on free speech in our area. Maybe it reflects the needs for more civics classes in local schools regarding how to thoughtfully and respectfully talk about differing ideas. We should promote democracy and free speech — not destroying campaign signs of folks who want to improve our local schools.

Jennifer Solomon

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