By editorial board • 

Roberts, Benner deserve a return to Mac school board

Zach Dotson, candidate for the McMinnville School Board’s Position 1, is thoughtful, articulate, community-minded and could provide a complementary voice to the board. So is retiree Vernon V.J. Adams, candidate for Position 3. We have no doubt they would make constructive contributions, were they to win election in mail balloting concluding May 16.

But we are reserving our endorsements for the incumbents, retired dentist Tim Roberts in Position 1 and construction company partner Carson Benner in Position 3, who are joining unopposed colleague Barbara Carter in seeking re-election.

Any time the field features an incumbent, we turn our attention there first. We ask, is there anything in the current seatholder’s performance that gives us enough pause to consider a replacement? Has the incumbent displayed diminished contribution, disruptive behavior, wrongheaded views or flagging commitment?

Clearly, that’s not the case with Roberts or Benner. They possess stores of knowledge and experience it would take their competitors years to amass. And they are putting it to good use in helping Superintendent Maryalice Russell chart a true course in trying times.

Following well-entrenched family tradition, Dotson joined his siblings in proving an indifferent student. It came as no surprise, then, when he quit Mac High his sophomore year. But he broke the mold when he went on to obtain a GED before his Class of 2012 comrades earned their diplomas.

Now holding down a job, starting a family and finding personal fulfillment in pursuit of environmental causes, it seems he didn’t lack for initiative or insight. He simply lacked the discipline and support to embrace the classroom setting.

To a lesser extent, Adams shares Dotson’s student experience.

He ultimately earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in his native Southern California, pursued a successful career in the aviation industry and taught aircraft maintenance. But in his K-12 days, he conceded, “I wasn’t much of a student.” He was drawn more to mechanics than academics, and the system wasn’t particularly accommodating.

Son of a professor, Roberts grew up in a family where the expectation wasn’t just that you would earn a high school diploma, or even a college degree. It was that you would go on to earn a graduate degree.

But like the challengers, he thinks the public school pendulum has swung too far toward college prep, leaving behind lots of students. He’s committed to beefing up Mac High’s vocational curriculum, and sees the new vocational wing now under construction helping foster a resurgence.

After high school, Benner enrolled in the flight program at Embry-Riddle, then shifted into aviation management. Before getting into the construction business, he worked for Evergreen International Aviation. He, also, embraces better academic/vocational balance.

The issue is, who’s best positioned to get the job done, and we give the nod to Roberts and Benner. We urge the challengers to follow in the incumbents’ footsteps and engage first through budget committee, bond committee or facilities task force service before turning to board tenure.


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