Vote Barnes Dholakia, Chadwick, Tatom for Bend-La Pine School board ▶ [With Video] | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon

Vote Barnes Dholakia, Chadwick, Tatom for Bend-La Pine School board ▶ [With Video]

May 2023 Election Endorsements for BLPS school board Zones 5, 6, 7

Over the past two months we've reached out to candidates, invited them in for interviews, listened to their ideas and then produced videos of our interviews, all in the name of helping the voters of Central Oregon make informed decisions in the May 16 election. In the case of the three open seats on the Bend-La Pine school board that include incumbents, we're advocating for the return of the person currently in each seat. Part of a conversation with Amy Tatom, running for Zone 5, struck us as poignant: She said that her first term on the board had barely begun when the pandemic hit, and that she'd like a chance to continue and to pursue the goals she'd set forth when she initially ran. We see the logic there.

Tatom, a family nurse practitioner, has been a solid advocate for student and staff mental health, bringing valuable insight and care to the board. Melissa Barnes Dholakia, the current board chair running in the Zone 6 At Large spot, has a raft of education-related experience in her background that makes her opponent — who's been absent from most public forums where voters can get to know him — pale in comparison.

In the Zone 7 At Large race we find four experienced and qualified candidates. Elizabeth Justema has recent and extensive teaching experience. During our interview, she offered valuable and actionable critiques of the district and some of its recent actions, which signal a candidate ready to lead and improve upon what we have already. Her focus on teacher and staff support is absolutely on point. Rod Hanson and Nicole Fitch also have extensive teaching experience that would be valuable on the board. Kina Chadwick (they/them), the recently appointed incumbent, doesn't possess the educational background of the others, but they offer insight as a parent of young children and lived experience in LGBTQ issues, as well as a background in organizational leadership that are the reasons the existing board selected them in the first place. While voters would be well represented by any of the candidates running in Zone 7, we don't find a good enough reason to unseat the incumbent at this time. Vote Amy Tatom in Zone 5, Melissa Barnes Dholakia in Zone 6 and Kina Chadwick in Zone 7 for Administrative School District #1. Last week, we also endorsed Cameron Fischer for Zone 3.

WATCH: Interviews with the candidates

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