By editorial board • 

Vollmer over Humlie and Partida over Aase

Deciding whom to endorse in races where incumbents have come under challenge is always, for us, a two-part process.

We first ask ourselves to what extent, if any, the incumbent’s performance leaves us open to seriously considering his or her replacement. We then ask ourselves to what extent, if any, the challenger’s credentials, experience and approach suggest he or she might represent an upgrade.

The McMinnville School Board has four seats up in the May 16 election, all of them contested. And the two seats we are considering today both feature incumbents seeking re-election.

Spoiler alert: We find ourselves enthusiastically supportive of both of the incumbents up this year. Both Larry Vollmer and Gerardo Partida have been filling important roles and making important contributions in their school board careers.

We don’t feel there is anything compelling enough in the resumes of challengers Anita Humlie and Audrey Aase to warrant making a change. If they are sincere about volunteer service in support of local schools, there are other ways they can making meaningful contributions without disrupting the flow of the current school board lineup, which has proven highly collaborative and effective.

Both Vollmer and Partida followed the same tried and true path. They started out learning the ins and outs of district operations through service on the district’s budget committee, won appointment to the board when an opening arose on down the line, then won election to the body — several times in Vollmer’s case.

Vollmer is a graduate of Scappoose High and Southern Oregon University. Holder of a bachelor’s degree in business, he serves as sales manager with Empire Rubber.

He put in five years on the budget committee before joining the board in 2006, and found that introduction to the community’s public education institution invaluable.

“The learning curve is huge,” he said. “It’s very steep.

“It takes three to four years just to become conversant and really begin contributing. It’s like drinking from a fire hose.”

The board is in the process of losing other reservoirs of institutional memory. We don’t feel it would be well-served with losing Vollmer’s as well at such a critical post-pandemic juncture, with the district having to play catch-up.

Vollmer has served on the finance, curriculum, policy and facilities committees, so is familiar with all aspects of the operation. He’s also had a chance to shepherd a child through a full 12 years. And he’s earned broad respect from his fellow board members for his diligence in mastering educational issues and providing an informed perspective during board discussions.

He grew up in a low-income, single-parent home, so is personally familiar with many of the challenges students face today. He said he’s committed, above all else, with giving students the confidence to think for themselves.

A native of rural Alaska, where she graduated from high school, Humlie is personable and articulate. She’s known in the community through her involvement with her husband, George, in the Humlie School of Music.

Earlier in her life, she spent 11 years working as an educational assistant in bilingual programs at Newby Elementary. If elected, she vows to “boost parental involvement in school board decisions,” starting with more consider of parent schedules in school calendar decisions.

Humlie sought a seat on the Yamhill County Parks and Recreation Advisory Board earlier this year, and said she is eager to serve her community in some capacity through appointment or election.

Partida holds a bachelor’s degree in marine fisheries and worked in the field for almost 10 years in the late ’80s and early ’90s. He spent several years as a real estate broker before landing a supervisory position with Community Home Builders, a nonprofit housing agency serving the low-income.

A native Spanish speaker, he headed up the district’s Hispanic Parents Committee before joining the budget committee. He was appointed to the board after four years of budget committee service, then elected to a full, four-year term.

“The board needs to reflect the community,” he argues.

In this case, the community includes a large Latino component. He serves as its only representative on the board, making him a highly valuable contributor with no viable replacement in the offing.

Partida said in 2006 he would like to get parents, both Latino and Anglo, “more involved in the schools in order to ensure students get the best possible educational outcome.” And he speaks from the perspective of the parent of three, two who’ve now graduated from the system and a third headed that direction.

In addition to his board service, he leads science field trips, visits local schools regularly and takes advantage of state and national leadership conferences and workshops through the school boards association.

Aase is a 2006 graduate of Mac High with two youngsters just getting started on their educational careers. A licensed hairdresser who now owns her own shop, she has become involved as a parent volunteer at Newby.

“I will listen to the voice of parents,” she vowed, arguing that “parents should have a say in what is being taught.” She also promised to take a “parents first” policy when it comes to the school calendar.

She credited City Councilor Chris Chenoweth with providing encouragement and helping her organize her campaign.

Vollmer and Partida are key contributors who’ve earned the trust of the community. We feel students in McMinnville would be best-served through their re-election.


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