By Starla Pointer • Staff Writer • 

Three seek school board Position 1

## Bizon
## Bizon
## Medrano
## Medrano
## Vera
## Vera

Voters will decide among incumbent Yanira Vera, who was appointed in October, and challengers Raul Medrano and Jason Bizon in the May 18 election.

Ballots will be sent to voters’ mailboxes about April 28. They must be returned to the Yamhill County Clerk’s Office by 8 p.m. election night. They can be mailed or dropped into voting boxes at the clerk’s office, the county courthouse or Chemeketa Community College’s Yamhill Valley Campus.

Two other seats are up for election this year. Incumbent Barbara Carter and challenger Abbie Warmbier are vying for Position 2. They will be profiled in the April 24 News-Register.

For Position 3, only incumbent Carson Benner filed to run.

Candidates may live in any part of the district, which includes McMinnville, Lafayette and surrounding Yamhill County areas served by McMinnville schools.

The McMinnville Area Chamber of Commerce will sponsor a school board candidate forum at 6 p.m. Wednesday, April 21, for Chamber members. A link is available through the Chamber website, mcminnville.org.

Here are profiles of the Position 1 candidates:

Jason Bizon

Bizon said he had positive experiences in McMinnville schools, and he is running for school board in order to ensure other students do, as well.

“I wasn’t the best student, academically,” the 1994 McMinnville High School graduate said, “but I had really great teachers, educators I looked up to. I owe them a debt.”

Bizon said serving on the board also would be a way to give back to his community. “It’s a time in my life when I want to make a positive contribution,” stated the 44-year-old father of two. Ava, a ninth-grader at Mac High, and Andrew, a seventh-grader at Patton Middle School, are two reasons he’s running. But really, he said, “I’m running for everybody’s kids.”

Bizon said this is an exciting time for the district, with a new superintendent starting this summer and schools reopening after the pandemic closure. He wants to be part of that.

He works as West Coast general manager for Bailey Nurseries. He said his ability to work with all kinds of people will serve him as a board member.

He said he also will bring communication and team-building skills to his role with the board. He believes in transparency and collaborating with others, he said.

While he doesn’t have any particular issues he wants to bring up, he said, he is “biased toward agriculture.” He said he hopes to strengthen Mac High’s horticulture and viticulture offerings.

“The nursery business is the No. 1 commodity crop here,” he said. “We need more people training in this industry.” 

Raul Medrano

Medrano, the father of a 6-year-old and a 3-year-old, said he wants to play a role in “creating opportunities for my children and everyone else.”

He is married to a 14-year educator who teaches a dual language class. “I see how hard she works,” he said, and he wants to make sure McMinnville educators are represented by the board.

Medrano also wants to represent the Latino community and, especially, make sure families that speak Spanish are aware of what’s happening in the district, receive plenty of communication, and have their say.

“I want to be involved in making positive change in the community,” he said.

He added he also wants to learn about the community, school board and school district. He would enjoy working with the incoming superintendent, he said.

Medrano said he has learned much about education this year as he’s helped his kindergarten son with his Comprehensive Distance Learning. He was new to Zoom himself when distance learning started.

“I’ve experienced first-hand how parents deal with their children’s education,” he said.

Medrano first moved to McMinnville in 2004 from the Los Angeles area. He had been on a mission, then graduated from California State University — Long Beach, where he studied accounting, switched to education, then returned to accounting to finish his degree.

During college, he also worked as a teaching assistant for two years.

He started his own business in 2005, specializing in accounting and tax preparation. He said about 85% of his clients speak Spanish, and, as a Latino himself, he’s pleased to be able to communicate with them and understand both their language and culture.

Some clients have shared their frustrations about trying to help their children with education in a language they don’t themselves speak. And he remembers when, as a 10-year-old, needing to act as translator when his father on the phone with insurance agents or other English speakers.

As a school board member, he said, he would like to make sure all parents have the right resources, support and direction from the district.

“I want to make sure it’s all equitable,” he said. “I want to reach out to families we don’t usually hear from and make sure their voices are heard, too.” 

Yanira Vera

Vera was appointed to the McMinnville School Board in October to fill the final nine months of the term of Tim Roberts, who retired from the board last year. A Latina, she’s running to keep the seat so she can continue promoting equity and ensuring underserved populations have a voice and receive the services they need.

The McMinnville district does a good job of that already, she said, but things can always get better. For instance, she wants to see it continue to diversify its staff to better represent student backgrounds.

Vera, director of portfolio management at the Housing Authority of Yamhill County, said her work and her service on the board have shown her the benefits of providing wrap-around services for families. “Housing and education are both vital for the lives of students,” she said.

She said she also understands the challenges people face, especially young people and those in traditionally underserved populations.

She expects families to experience those challenges as students return to classrooms after a year or more of distance learning. They may need help with the transition, not with academics, but also with mental health and social skills, she said.

Vera has been with the Housing Authority for 22 years, almost as long as she’s lived in McMinnville. She and her husband moved from California, desiring a good place for their children to grow up and go to school.

Her son, who’ll be 24 in May, was active in sports at Mac High. Her daughter was involved in music and other arts. Both went on to Brigham Young University in Idaho; he has graduated, and she is a member of the class of 2023.

Vera had been active in her children’s schools. As an empty nester, she said she felt it was time to become more involved in serving the community, so she applied for the school board opening.

She has learned much over the past few months, and said she would like to use that knowledge in her next term. She joined the board just as the search for a new superintendent was underway. It was a lengthy, time-consuming process, but she’s excited about the hiring of Debbie Brockett. 

“I’d like to follow through” as the new superintendent comes begins, as students return to classrooms and the district continues to work on equity, she said.

She also wants to continue to work with the other board members, Benner, Carter, Gerardo Partida, Larry Vollmer, Janis Braich and Paul Haddeland. Like her, she said, they “want what’s best for all students.”

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