Candidates in two three-way races lay out prioritiesKnappa - Six candidates are vying for two open seats on the Knappa School Board, while Anita Nichols is unopposed in her bid for re-election to the Position 3 seat.

The candidates all said a desire to get more involved in their community, rather than any particular issue, prompted their decisions to run.

Three candidates, Nena West, Mike Hobbs and Troy Lindgren seek Position 4.

Three others seek position 5. They are Rinda Johansen, Ellen Sowins and Kathi Shear.

The following are brief biographies of the candidates.

Position 4Nena WestNena WestAge: 41

Address: 92142 KC Creek Road

Occupation: Home health patient care coordinator, Columbia Memorial Hospital

Education: B.S., Linfield College/Good Samaritan Hospital

Affiliations:

Length of time in Clatsop County: 41 years

Prior public service:

Issues/Goals: Build strong foundation for kids' education

A registered nurse and home health manager, West says the well-being of the whole community has always been important to her.

The Knappa native attended local schools, and returned to the community to raise her own family. She has two children - one in elementary school, one in high school - in the district.

Early this year, West coordinated a benefit dinner for the district's sports programs, and helped write a grant proposal for the local summer recreation program. Later some local citizens asked if she'd be interested in running for the school board, she said.

The board should work to make sure the district provides a setting that boosts character and self-esteem, she said. "It's important to set a strong foundation for our kids."

The board should encourage community participation in the district, and must also consider the input of students, staff, parents and citizens when making decisions, she said.

West said she's concerned that some district teachers may be reluctant to use different approaches to reach students who may not respond to standard teaching methods, but overall is happy with the district's educators. "I have a lot of faith in them," she said.

Home health patient care coordinator for Columbia Memorial Hospital for the past 10 years, West pointed to her managerial experience, which includes service on the Oregon Nurses Association, the bargaining unit representing Columbia Memorial's nursing staff, as well as the policy-making committee for the hospital's home health services.

Mike HobbsMike HobbsAge: 38

Address: 41958 Wickiup Terrace, Astoria

Occupation: Electrician, Weyerhaeuser Corp.

Education: Electrician training, Chemeketa, Rogue River and Clatsop community colleges

Affiliations: Length of time in Clatsop County: 30 years

Prior public service: Knappa Rural Fire Protection District volunteer

Issues/Goals: Serve the district.

Though he works as an electrician, Mike Hobbs said he comes from a strong education background, with a mother and two grandparents who worked as teachers.

A Knappa resident since childhood and graduate of the local school system, Hobbs said he sees service on the school board as a chance to contribute to the community, something he's also done as a volunteer with the Knappa fire district. A veteran of eight years in the military, he's an electrician for Weyerhaeuser, and has a daughter attending Hilda Lahti Elementary School.

While he's not familiar with the issues currently facing the board, Hobbs said his connections to the community make him qualified for the position.

Troy LindgrenTroy LindgrenAge: 36

Address: 92512 Maggie Johnson Road, Astoria

Occupation: Forester, Teevin Bros.

Education: B.S., Forest Engineering, Oregon State University

Affiliations:

Length of time in Clatsop County: 11 years

Prior public service:

Issues/Goals: Seek additional outside funding

Troy Lindgren said he's generally happy with the course the district is on as it grapples with the fiscal problems facing most Oregon schools.

"They seem to be ahead of the curve on the budget cuts," he said.

A Knappa resident for 11 years and a forester for Teevin Bros., Lindgren saw the two upcoming vacancies on the school board and no candidates pursuing them, and decided to put his name up for consideration. He has two children who attend Hilda Lahti Elementary School.

Lindgren said joining the board "would probably be a learning experience in the beginning," but called himself a "good communicator and problem solver." He thinks the board's top priorities should be to look closer at increasing revenue coming into the district, including state timber dollars.

Position 5Rinda JohansenRinda JohansenAge: 41

Address: 92385 Maki Road, Astoria

Occupation: Student

Education: Associate Degree, Clatsop Community College

Affiliations:

Length of time in Clatsop County: 33 years

Prior public service:

Issues/Goals: Increase citizen involvement.

As a member of Clatsop Community College's student government last year, Rinda Johansen got to see the school's inner workings, and wants to put that knowledge to work on the Knappa School Board.

A Knappa resident since 1972, Johansen has been heavily involved with local schools, helping out in her two children's' classes, volunteering at the parent club thrift store, and co-chairing the fundraising group for the baseball and football teams. She is currently pursuing a social science degree through Eastern Oregon University.

Johansen said she would bring strong listening skills to the board, and wants to increase public involvement in order to make sure citizens understand the issues facing the district as it grapples with ongoing budget constraints.

"It's a hard position. You've got to take in the students and what their needs are, and also the teachers and administrators," she said. "Everything has to be looked at very carefully. You have to take in the big picture to come up with the best decisions."

Ellen SowinsEllen SowinsAge: 66

Address: 92632 T.T. Larson Road, Astoria

Occupation: Retired, banking, health food sales.

Education: Bachelor's degree, Donsbach University

Affiliations:

Length of time in Clatsop County: 11 years

Prior public service: Budget committee, Clatsop Health District

Issues/Goals: Ensure all high schoolers graduate.

Putting kids' needs first would be her priority on the Knappa School Board, said Ellen Sowins.

A Knappa resident since 1994, Sowins said she brings a different perspective than someone raised in the area. She has a granddaughter attending Hilda Lahti Elementary School but could separate that from her duties as board member, she said.

The Knappa-Svensen area isn't likely to grow substantially any time in the near future, and Sowins said consolidating some classes may be a solution to the tight budget picture. She would also like to see more volunteer help in the district.

But Sowins also wants to see every high school student graduate, whether with a regular diploma or G.E.D., and would like to see more vocational training offered.

Sowins said she's also volunteered in a variety of capacities, from her church to the budget committee of the Clatsop Health District.

"Everybody should serve if they have the time," she said. "You never know what you can contribute."

Kathi ShearKathi ShearAge: 46

Address: 92184 Cub Drive, Astoria

Occupation: Sales, Danger Den

Education: Associate degree

Affiliations:

Length of time in Clatsop County: 12 years

Prior public service:

Issues/Goals: Expand volunteer programs for struggling students.

As a parent of two students, Kathi Shear said she's interested in making sure her children get the best education possible.

Shear, who said she was encouraged to run for the board, has volunteered in the past for the district's summer recreation program, and regularly attends the board's meetings, she said.

The district should consider expanding its volunteer reading program that helps struggling students to other subjects such as math, especially in the lower grades, she said.

Shear would also like to see some scheduling changes so kids involved in athletics don't miss so many classes at the end of the school day.

"I feel I'm looking out for the kids, and trying to get what's best for them," she said.

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