Longtime Keizer resident and Salem-Keizer School Board vice chairman Chuck Lee announced his candidacy for Oregon State Representative on Wednesday, March 12.
“I am committed to growing Oregon’s economic vitality,” said Lee, president of the Mountain West Career and Technical Institute. “With strategic investment and innovative public private partnerships we can develop a workforce that is so highly skilled and trained that our state becomes a magnet for new businesses and supports existing regional industry.”
Lee, who will run as an independent, seeks to fill the seat currently held by Rep. Kim Thatcher, who is running for state Senate. Bill Post and Barbara Jensen have previously announced their candidacy to run as Republicans.
“My non-partisan experience the last 14 years serving on the Keizer City Council and the Salem-Keizer School Board has shown me that when we can remove a pre-disposed definition of values and votes, we build a strong foundation for transparent and honest conversation and sound decision making,” Lee said.
As the former president of Blanchet Catholic School, Lee states his main priorities are rooted in his experience working with educators, children and their families, elected officials, community leaders and businesses that are committed to an Oregon that thrives and comes together in spite of tough economic challenges. He helped build Blanchet into a school that graduates 95 percent of students onto four year colleges.
“When leadership is so focused on partisan infighting that results in gridlock they can’t effectively identify priorities, solve problems and seize opportunities,” Lee said. “I believe our problems can be solved with hard work and the courage to compromise.”
The District 25 seat covers Keizer, St. Paul and Newberg. Lee, a father and grandfather of nine, lives in Keizer with his wife Krina, the executive director of the Salem-Keizer Education Foundation.
“My parents were foster parents,” Lee said. “I grew up with nearly 50 brothers and sisters with 50 different journeys. I know that successful pathways take empathy, patience and humility. These values will guide my service to the great people of District 25 and all Oregonians.”
When I talk with my classmates about post-graduation, it seems that most high school seniors won’t go very far to further their education. This is no different than most students that have made their way through McNary High School; in fact, it appears that many students in the country stay close to home for their higher education.
I decided to do a little more formal research than just conversations, so I asked all the students in McNary’s College Writing class where they are going to be next school year. College Writing is one of the three most rigorous courses offered at McNary; students enrolled in the class are seniors who want to further their education beyond high school. The class consists some of McNary’s top students; therefore, it’s one of the best samples to take when trying to find out where college-bound teens are going.
A total of 44 students are in College Writing. Of the 44, 30 are remaining in Oregon. The in-state schools that will be attended by McNary Celtics are (listed from most to least amount of possible students) Chemeketa Community College, University of Oregon, Oregon State University, Western Oregon University, Portland State University, Willamette University, George Fox University and Eastern Oregon University.
The other 14 students will be out-of-state; six of the 14 will be in neighboring states: Washington and California. Only eight of the 44 College Writing students will be going “far.”
Some of the states that might have McNary graduates are Utah, Colorado, Arizona, Iowa, Minnesota, and Georgia. Two people still have not been able to narrow down which state they will be attending school.
Why are we afraid to go far? Are we afraid to go far? Is there another reason for staying close to home? Some of the students were able to get more scholarships for in-state schools, and money seemed to be an issue for many of the college-bound individuals. Perry Groves will most likely attend Portland State University because of a football scholarship, and he also said, “If you ain’t talkin’ money, I don’t wanna talk!”
Another student responded, “It’s too expensive to pay out-of-state tuition.”
“Chemeketa, because it’s free!” is what another replied with.
Money is not the only thing on seniors’ minds; family is, too. A comment made that was related to family was “Staying close so I can have the security of my family,” and Emily Wade shared that she will “stay close to family so I can have their support.”
There’s one other reason that many are staying in Oregon and that reason is the love for the Northwest. “I love Oregon. Yay Oregon!” “I love the Northwest.” “The Northwest is the best place to be in the world!” “The Pacific Northwest is perfect for me.”
There are Oregon lovers, and there are Oregon haters. I feel like the College Writing class would become a fight club if I gave out the names of the individuals that love and hate Oregon.
The weather seems to be a factor for some that wish to leave the state. “I want to go far away because of the weather.”
An experience away from home can really benefit an individual. Being independent allows a person to discover who he or she truly is. Two students said being out-of-state will allow them to “see new things” and have “a new start.” Another stated, “Iowa because that is as far away as my mother will allow me to go.”
On a more individual basis, some students told me their plans in a little more depth than others. Dani Saunders is “going to be playing softball… and Willamette has an excellent law school.”
Traci Brown is taking advantage of “a dual degree partnership with OSU and Linn-Benton for law.”
Zach Wehrli will definitely be outside of Oregon. “Why wouldn’t I take the opportunity to live somewhere new and experience things?”
Nothing is certain though. One student summarized that pretty well. “My plans for college are not completely set in stone. It all depends on what happens in the near future.”
Her group hasn’t had a chance to do a survey, but Rhonda Rich knows her personal preference for the play structure siting.
Rich, president of the West Keizer Neighborhood Association (WKNA), had planned to have members fill out a survey about The Big Toy at Keizer Rapids Park play structure at last month’s WKNA meeting. In particular Rich wanted to know where members wanted to see the play structure go. Siting became an issue recently when Mayor Lore Christopher began lobbying for a space in the orchards on Chemawa Road, as opposed to the “Site 1” location between the amphitheater and the boat ramp.
However, there were several presentations made during the meeting. As a result, there wasn’t a chance to go over the survey. She expects the survey to be part of this month’s meeting, set for March 13 at 7 p.m. at Keizer Civic Center.
Rich has spoken at recent council meetings regarding her preference for the play structure’s siting and has stayed consistent.
“I think the location by the river (Site 1) is a more visible location where people are,” Rich said. “I just think it’s a better place than right along the road. Some of the other issues with the orchard site are the spraying and the dirt. I think it’s a better location by the amphitheater. With the future educational center (at the Charge house), that could tie things together.”
A key issue with the mayor’s preferred site is the orchards are in city limits, but are not part of the Urban Growth Boundary, something that would have to be rectified before a play structure could be built there.
“I can see where there is a big push to expand the UGB,” Rich said. “We don’t have any problem with the UGB expansion. But I don’t think that should be a driving force for siting the play structure.”
In other recent WKNA business:
• Eric Bandonis, the Keizer-area parole and probation officer for the Marion County Sheriff’s Office, gave a presentation on behalf of the Keizer Police Department. Among other things, Bandonis emphasized the need for citizens to lock their cars and houses.
“Although Keizer is a safe community, we still need to take such precautions to keep down the crime level,” Bandonis said.
• Linda Baker gave a presentation about the Keizer Homegrown Theater (KHT), which is staging three productions this year.
The next play, I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change, will be performed March 20-22 and 27-29 at the Keizer Civic Center. All performances begin at 7 p.m.
Baker also noted a desire to attract more interest from Keizer residents, since most of the current KHT actors are from Salem.
• Several members of Keizer Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) gave a presentation of the organization that has been helping neighbors in emergencies around Keizer since October 2002.
Jerry Wade noted Keizer is divided into 19 CERT zones, with a CERT leader for each zone. Wade said CERT members went door-to-door during last month’s winter storm, contacting and helping the elderly as needed.
Paul Pfinister, CERT president, said the organization acts as a backup resource for emergency services such as police and fire.
• Speaking of both fire services and last month’s storm, Keizer fire chief Jeff Cowan noted the Keizer Fire District responded to 63 calls in 93 hours during the storm, about twice the normal rate of calls.