Never before has Oregon Right to Life’s Political Action Committee (PAC) gotten involved so expansively in Oregon’s school board elections.
Our state has more than 1,200 public schools serving kindergarten through high school organized into 197 school districts. Most of Oregon’s school boards have between five and seven members who serve four-year terms. It is an elected but unpaid position that has tremendous influence over local education.
School boards are becoming increasingly important to the statewide political landscape. Several members of the Oregon Legislature also currently sit on school boards or spent time on school boards before running for higher office. Electing pro-life advocates to these boards is crucial for developing pro-life community leaders, some of whom will seek higher positions.
The importance of local school boards has not gone unnoticed by Planned Parenthood and NARAL. They have invested a significant and growing number of resources in these local elections. Not only do they want to groom their own advocates for higher office, they also want access to Oregon’s students through sex education and school-based health clinics. Having pro-life school board members goes a long way toward keeping parents informed about their children’s learning and healthcare in school.
Our PAC staff reached out to over 850 candidates around the state. Ninety-five candidates received questionnaires in pursuit of an endorsement. Fifty-four candidates made it through the questionnaire stage and were interviewed. Our PAC board endorsed 50 candidates and recommended two.
Oregon Right to Life’s PAC assisted our candidates, spending $150,000 in campaign support. Our grassroots outreach team knocked on 3,000 doors. We also utilized texting, mailers and both automated and
Our PAC focused on six main school boards: Sherwood, Canby, Hillsboro, Salem-Keizer, North Clackamas and West Linn-Wilsonville. In these six districts, pro-life community members put together strong slates of supportable candidates. These districts also had opportunities for pro-life candidates to win.
At press time, election results still had not been certified. Thankfully, it appears that at least 21 Oregon Right to Life-endorsed or recommended candidates won their races.
Sherwood: Both pro-life candidates won in Sherwood, including Krista Thorne. Notably, Duncan Nyang’oro defeated Pat Allen, director of Kate Brown’s Oregon Health Authority.
Canby: Both pro-life candidates (Sherry Smith and Sara Magenheimer) won.
Hillsboro: Four endorsed candidates ran, with Monique Ward coming out on top in Position 6. All four races were incredibly close, each separated by only a few hundred votes.
Salem-Keizer: A Planned Parenthood-backed slate spent nearly a quarter of a million dollars in our capitol’s school district. Unfortunately, pro-life candidates appear at press time to have lost.
North Clackamas: Both pro-life candidates lost in this district.
West-Linn Wilsonville: Kelly Sloop, a former legislative candidate and ORTL endorsee, was ahead by a mere 16 votes in this district as of press time.
Win or lose, pro-life candidates made their mark in these communities. We will continue to look for ways we can support our new school board members and encourage even more engagement in this critical area.