Letters to the Editor: May 5, 2023

Push back

So the MAGA crowd is coming for the McMinnville School District, hoping no one will notice until the deed is done. They want to separate our children from their history and their own identities, ban the books they don’t like and enforce their version of what it means to be American.

This nonsense may fly in Florida, but we can’t let it happen here.

Do not allow this minority of radicals define our society and culture by the narrow parameters they accept. Do not allow our children to be shut down, indoctrinated and turned into sheep to clear a path for the authoritarian regime that these radicals wish to impose on us.

The struggle to maintain a civil democracy in the face of the current blizzard of electronic disinformation will be passed on to our children.

To prevail, these children will need a truthful recounting of history, including the mistakes of the past. They will need to know themselves to imagine the best lives they can live.

The job of the school district is to structure our schools to provide the most accurate information available in a setting that encourages the kinds of questions and challenges that foster clear thinking and learning.

I feel sorry for the kids in Florida.

They are being groomed for an authoritarian future. By the time they get out of school, many will think that’s the American way.

Don’t let that happen here. Push back.

Vote for Vollmer, Partida, Anderson and Towery. Let our children grow.

Bill Johnson



Tax shell game

The proposed consolidation of the McMinnville Fire Department and McMinnville Rural Fire Protection District comes with hidden costs that will shock homeowners if they have not carefully studied the fine print.

If the implementing measures pass, the combined city and fire tax rate next year will increase from $5.02 per thousand dollars of assessed valuation to $5.52.

If a McMinnville City Council majority has its way, the $3.52 city portion of that rate will increase another 50 cents per thousand each of the next three years. In four years, that would make the combined city and fire rate $7.02, a whopping 40% increase.

Doesn’t sound that bad?

For the average single family home in Yamhill County, a rate of $7.02 would add about $475 a year to your current property tax bill. What’s more, assessed values can be expected to rise over four years, typical houses are more expensive in McMinnville than most parts of the county, and a large portion of local houses already exceed the average.

This all comes on top of a new utility tax the city recently imposed on every homeowner, without a public vote, of $156 per year. Then there’s a new tax on new construction, in addition to the existing system development charges, and talk of a new licensing fee on all city businesses. What will they think of taxing next?

From what I have heard, consolidation of the fire districts sounds like a good idea. It’s too bad the deserving fire departments may end up taking the fall for the McMinnville City Council’s creative attempt to disguise its desire to take even more taxes from residents.

Mark Bierly



Supportive contributor

I am voting for Todd Hyder for the McMinnville School Board.

Many of you will know that I served as a principal here in McMinnville for nearly 20 years.

I believe the success of our school board during those years was due in large part to the fact that our members were first and foremost parents of school-age children. Not only did they have a vested interest in the district in general, they also had a vested interest in the success of their own children.

I am supporting Todd Hyder because he is a product of the McMinnville School District, a successful business owner in our community, and the father of three school-age children. He has been a supportive contributor in the community and school district since returning from completion of his doctor of dental medicine degree.

I know Todd to be an honest, hardworking and smart young man who would do great work as a board member here in McMinnville and Lafayette. Please join me in voting for Todd Hyder for the McMinnville School Board.

Kris Olsen



Last line of defense

I totally agree with Les Howsden’s April 21 letter suggesting McMinnville School Board candidates be required to answer questions regarding the up-and-coming election.

I also agree with some of what Nicole Montesano said in her April 25th article, “Commissioners raise anti-trans sentiments.”

And since it must have passed factual muster before being published, I feel free to agree with both Commissioners Mary Starrett and Lindsay Berschauer when they were quoted as branding House Bill 2002 as downright evil and as bad as it gets. Puberty blockers for 8-year-olds, gender reassignment surgeries for 15-year-olds, and all made legal with zero parental notification.

There was a time when schools had to get parental permission to give a student an aspirin. Now they can help students with gender transition without parents’ knowledge.

Pull House Bill 2002 up on your computer, educate yourself on it and ask your candidate where he or she stands. Then vote accordingly.

Also make your legislators aware of how you feel before the bill works its way to final passage. Parents, if this bill passes, your school board will be the last line of defense to inform parents of what their children are being encouraged to do at school.

Donna Lunt



Engaged listener

Doris Towery has my vote for McMinnville School Board, Position 7.

Doris has demonstrated her dedication to enriching her community. She served as president of the Lane County Transit Board, where she managed a $189 million budget, and has been active in her local Rotary Club for 25 years.

An example of her dedication for kids to succeed to the best of their abilities is shown in her participation as a SMART reader in McMinnville Schools. SMART is a volunteer program to promote literacy and engage students to become better readers.

Doris believes all kids can succeed. She would help promote needed resources for at-risk youth.

She would be engaged and listen to her constituents, but first and foremost, would do what is right for the students of McMinnville School District. Vote Doris Towery for McMinnville School Board, Position 7.

Megan Whitaker



Reject the ideologues

Recent news articles have reported that a number of well-funded organizations with ideological agendas are financing slates of candidates in the upcoming school board elections. These organizations can be found on both the right and left of the political spectrum.

Despite their different political leanings, they share this common agenda. All of them seek to inject the bitter ideological feuds going on at national level into our local school board elections.

Despite protestations of deep concern for our kids, in reality, the actual agendas of many of these organizations rarely address the major issues facing our local schools, such as student mental health, teacher burnout and failing proficiency levels in reading and math. By contrast, our existing school board is clearly focused on these issues, and has a record of keeping McMinnville’s K-12 school system among the top ones in the state.

Two of the current board members, Larry Vollmer and Gerardo Partida, are running for re-election. And they deserve our continued support.

They are joined by two highly qualified candidates — Doris Towery and Lu Ann Anderson — who are pledged to focusing on the real challenges facing McMinnville schools.

Many of us have watched the sad events that have disrupted the neighboring Newberg School District the last several years. I believe we can avoid a similar situation in McMinnville by electing a board dedicated to meeting the real pressing needs of our students, rather than the ideological demands of outsiders with deep pockets but little real interest in our community.

Henry Kass



Worried for children

I moved to McMinnville with my brothers, sisters and folks, Dirk and Harriet Boersma, in 1962.

I have three children, 11 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren, most of whom also live in the area. I sold real estate here for 38 years before retiring.

I have always been proud of our schools in Yamhill County, but am now worried for our children.

I am here to endorse Audrey Aase for McMinnville School Board. She is a hardworking and reasonable young lady, and I believe she would do an amazing job.

Margie Castro



Taxation without representation

I am voting no on the dissolution of the McMinnville Rural Fire Protection District and formation of the new McMinnville Fire District (Measures 36-226 and 36-227) to form a combined urban and rural fire service.

I object to the tax increase that would come with the new district. While there may be a need for a limited increase in funds to support the existing rural fire district, the proposals before McMinnville area voters would more than double the tax rate for rural residents.

There’s no assurance our services would ever be at or near the level provided in the city, yet we would all be assessed at the same $2 per $1,000. And with directors all elected at large, the new district would likely feature zero representation for rural home and property owners.

My grandfather was instrumental in the formation of the McMinnville Rural Fire Protection District after his home burned in the late 1920s and no one from town would help. Without the assurance of representation, rural McMinnville would have little opportunity to ensure services were provided in a reasonable and equitable manner through the new district.

Please join me in voting no on these two measures.

Janet Lee Redmond



Wise leader

We support the election of Todd Hyder to the McMinnville School Board.

We have known Todd since moving to McMinnville in 2015, and have found him to be personable, cheerful and engaging. We think his personality and character would lend a home-grown and public-oriented face to the school board.

Todd is also a successful business person.

The McMinnville School District is a multi-million-dollar business based on local, state and federal tax dollars. Todd is well-suited to be a wise manager and leader in the expenditure of these funds.

Having had a presence at every McMinnville School Board meeting from May 2015 to June 2021, we believe Todd would be a valuable and able addition to the board. We feel he would faithfully represent the McMinnville community of students, staff, parents and residents.

Peter and Sally Keenan



Avoid Newberg fiasco

As I drive the highways around McMinnville, I see dozens of expensive signs with smiling faces of candidates for our upcoming school board election, and I wonder, “Who paid for these expensive signs? Does someone want to replicate the Newberg schools fiasco, in which rightwing radicals took over the board, got themselves into legal trouble, fired a popular superintendent and lost more than 200 teachers, administrators and support personnel?”

I don’t know. However, you can be sure that whoever paid for those signs has a purpose and an agenda in mind.

McMinnville schools do not need radical change. The district continues to be recognized by the state as a leader in school improvement and student outcomes.

We have two board members on the ballot who deserve the opportunity to continue: Larry Vollmer and Gerardo Partida. We also have two well-known community leaders, with records of accomplishment helping our community thrive, who deserve the opportunity to work on behalf our students and teachers: Doris Towery and Lu Ann Anderson.

If you think local school board elections don’t matter, because you don’t have children in school anymore, consider this: School quality is a leading factor in where people choose to live and purchase homes.

According to Redfin Realty, Newberg’s home sale prices are down 15% this year and McMinnville’s are up 3.3%. For the person selling what was a $400,000 home, that’s a loss of $60,000 in Newberg and a gain of $13,200 in McMinnville.

Schools matter. Bad choices in school board races can be costly in more ways than one.

Be sure to vote wisely May 16.

Phil Forve



Working her agenda

Lindsay, Lindsay, Lindsay. It’s hard to keep up with you, what with you working your agenda every minute of the day.

The problem is, so little of your work serves the people who elected you to the Yamhill County Board of Commissioners. Now we see that you are stacking your allies, including your husband, on the Yamhill County Parks Board.

I thought it was particularly tasteful of you, Ms. Berschauer, to say the interests of our Mexican American community would be adequately represented by the fact your husband speaks a little Spanish. Way to go in continuing to lower the bar of civility and civic leadership in a single bound.

Anyway, I digress. What is your grand scheme?

Maybe the concept of public parks seems like a communist notion to you, not that you’ve read a word of Das Kapital. Is the goal, perhaps, to privatize the parks, to put them up for silent auction among your favorite families, or, dare I say, family developers?

Once you get to packing the planning commission as well, you might have a shot. I mean, what good comes from parks anyway?

While we’re on the topic of commies, after narrowly turning back a recall effort, thus vanquishing your enemies, I remember you alleging there were communists in the schools.

Oh my! Have you hunted any down yet?

I’ll conclude by simply saying, stick to your job, while you still have it. At least take a stab at representing the community as a whole. And stop wasting our money on your Second Amendment follies.

You are the last candidate that I want either interpreting or promoting my constitutional rights.

David Polite



For stable funding

McMinnville area residents have an opportunity to show the McMinnville Fire Department their appreciation for the risks they choose to take to serve all residents of McMinnville. They can do that by voting yes on Measure 36-226 for a more solid future.

Dissolving the McMinnville Fire Department and McMinnville Rural Fire Protection District leads the way to saying yes on Measure 36-227, consolidating rural and urban fire service under the newly created McMinnville Fire District.

Both agencies have been operating on underfunded and inconsistent budgets. The uncertainty of the current funding structure is not good for us and our growing future.

Having stable funding will create the ability to plan for future needs such as tools and equipment. Consistent funding will allow for better recruitment and retention, thus less burnout and turnover.

Our first responders choose this profession to help others in time of need. Let’s support them in their time of need.

I urge everyone to vote yes on Measures 36-226 and 36-227.

Barbara Boyer



Time for change

I am writing in support of Anita Humlie, Audrey Aase and Shellie Reyes for school board positions #4, #5, and #7.

Anita is as qualified to be on the board as any other candidate. As a successful small business owner, she has had her share of important decisionmaking. And as a mother to her three children, she knows how important it is to help guide them through elementary, middle and high school.

Now she has a chance to do more. She wants to work with the other board members and parents to make decisions that are best for the students.

Audrey is a graduate of McMinnville High.

What could be better than to have a former student on the board trying to make her Alma Mater a better place for your children and grandchildren? Thoughts of our schools getting back to what we learned in our formative years — reading, writing and arithmetic — is basic to what all students need to go through life.

Shellie is another open-minded candidate to seriously consider. As a marriage and family therapist and mental health specialist, who could be more qualified to serve? With all the issues students are dealing with that is creating anxiety and depression, Shellie could help guide them to better mental health, better self-appreciation and a better life in the future.

A friend of mine attended a school board work session. She was the only person in the room other than the board members.

The meeting lasted 20 minutes. As she was leaving, she was asked why she was there.

Do you really think this is working for our students? It’s time for new leadership in the McMinnville School District.

Susie Peterson



Build on facts

When reading the last batch of letters to the editor, I braced myself for the obvious misrepresentations, false innuendos and unsubstantiated declarations that I regularly come across. This time I saw so many falsehoods, especially when I read the blatant message that COVID is over, that I realized I needed to send a letter of my own.

I was astonished someone would dare declare such a thing and expect others to accept it.

I know for a fact, personally, that this simply is not the truth. I recognize and accept medically, scientifically proven data — not opinion or theory — that COVID will never be over.

This kind of message only serves to show how important it is to scrutinize and question all other statements in such letters.

Thankfully, there was more to read and consider in this edition of my News-Register, particularly Scott Gibson’s informative piece regarding civic organizations in our community. Many of them are also part of our national landscape, even international.

In his “Service by design,” Dr. Gibson threw out a multitude of statistics that explained what these organizations do to enhance and enable their causes. These numbers may be verified in many ways in order to prove their validity.

And proof is the operative word. We can be fueled by people’s unproven statements into outright paranoia, which shuts down all manner of critical thinking.

I agree with the intended message in “Service by design,” which gives us an even playing field as we help others, despite our sometimes vast personal and societal differences.

Facts are facts, not opinions, theories nor ideas, whether we accept them or not. There is no such thing as “alternative facts” when there are conflicting messages.

A person can wish or want something to be reality. But when proof, not opinion, is revealed, it’s in one’s best interest to accept reality and decide from there which direction we’re going to proceed.

I favor the coming together with all of our differing perspectives in a kind, responsible and respectful manner.

Donna Aalto



Path to authoritarianism

Mr. Quillen’s letter pushing his parental rights as the excuse to mold our public schools in his image was timely.

It reminded me that our public schools serve a diverse community with diverse backgrounds, values and needs. It reminded me that our history and literature classes should be factual and inclusive.

It reminded me that we should avoid the intolerance we witnessed in Newberg. And it reminded me that we should value every child, not just the ones that look and think like a particular set of people.

The DeSantis-generated memes about “book lists” and “parental rights” are nonsense.

Libraries already have “book lists.” They are called catalogs.

And parents already have rights. What they frequently lack is personal responsibility.

Banning books and people you don’t like are the first steps toward an authoritarian society.

Margaret Cross



Back to basics

Since public education has gone awry, I think it’s important to separate the noise with basic analysis driven by common sense rather than emotional response.

Those with any education and true concern for children will agree that political agendas and personal beliefs should not be part of the K-12 education system. If you disagree, and support group think, then perhaps China, North Korea or Venezuela would be a better match for you.

COVID lockdowns shone a light on those who have been sitting on school boards.

It exposed their unfortunate ties to agendas that don’t belong in the curriculum, such as pride flags. The only flag that belongs in a classroom is our nation’s flag.

I am amazed those challenging the new candidates are using talking points that have nothing to do with simply getting back to the basics.

Who is talking about banning books? Restricting books to that which is relevant to basic education such as arithmetic, English language, reading comprehension, and US History, just seems like common sense to me.

Pornographic material or other material that your parents banned from you, at least I hope, should not be in the classroom. Since when is this a far right issue?

I thought the school board was supposed to be non-partisan. Yet those who identify as progressive are on the angry attack.

I am voting for new school board members who have stepped up to the challenge to make things right again — for the parents and their children, not for some agenda.

Todd Hyder, Anita Humlie, Shellie Reyes and Audrey Aase, you have my vote. Keep smiling!

Michael Bilbrey



Strings attached

Over the last several weeks, while researching and clarifying the proposed fire district change and the costs involved, I have become increasingly concerned.

The redistricting proposal, the cost involved and the need for increased fire services all seem completely reasonable. If it were not for the fact that the city is proposing to keep the current fire funding authority, gradually phase it back in, and put it to other use not yet identified, I would be in favor.

Unfortunately, my faith in our current city leadership is so low that I cannot simply hand over thousands of dollars to them to do as they please.

More than five years ago, I wrote letters to then Remy Drabkin, Kellie Menke and Adam Garvin regarding homeless issues at Joe Dancer Park. I received replies that they were “working on it,” but little has changed.

Just recently, residents were subjected to a new city fee, tacked onto our Water & Light bills, that was apparently needed to balance a budget that had been running in the red.

Multiple times on various social media posts, I have seen Mr. Garvin ask that we not hold the fire service hostage over issues with the city. But isn’t the city holding us hostage, playing to our safety fears and need for updated services, then attaching a blank check to it?

This one needs to go back to the drawing board. I urge the city to bring forward a plan to fund this district without strings attached for itself.

Jennifer Smark



Dedicated leaders

In my seven years on the McMinnville School Board, I got to know Larry Vollmer very well.

He is an intelligent, dedicated public servant who has happily put in the many hours per month required of a school director. His interest has always been to find ways to improve our schools so that every child is given the opportunity to reach his or her dreams.

He values parental input in the ongoing development of school policy. And given the departure of some of our most longstanding board members, his institutional memory is invaluable for leading our schools to ever-improving outcomes.

Gerardo Partida joined the board shortly after I left, but I was delighted that a leader of his stature had emerged from the Hispanic community to take a seat on the board. We have a large Hispanic student population, and his voice would continue to be of great value as the school system moves forward.

We need Larry Vollmer and Gerardo Partida on the McMinnville School Board, and now more than ever. Please give them your support and your vote.

Scott Gibson



Clear vision

In my 40-year career as an educator in higher education and Oregon’s K-12 schools, I have worked with talented school leaders, many of whom served on their local school boards.

These leaders were dedicated and experienced, loved children and displayed a clear vision about how children could succeed. But none was more talented, or had a stronger work ethic, than McMinnville School Board candidate Lu Ann Anderson.

Currently, Lu Ann works part-time at Portland State University with a team of local educators and community members on a five-year research initiative to support the learning of children in our schools. She was chosen because of her extensive background in diverse educational settings, strong emotional intelligence and deep passion.

Her wisdom, perspective and advocacy are apparent to those of us fortunate enough to collaborate with her every day. It is in these ways that she would also serve the McMinnville community.

Clearly, Lu Ann Anderson brings an ideal mix of intellectual and interpersonal skills to school board service. She is a highly capable leader, an educational professional who brings seven years of successful school board service to this position.

She has demonstrated the ability to address the well-being of children and teachers. I rate her outstanding on all fronts.

Susan Carlile



Parental involvement

I am glad people are becoming more aware of how important school boards are in the function, success and health of public education. Educators and school board members are the people we put in position to educate our children.

When I vote for someone to hold that position, I want them to represent parents, students and teachers. I want them to include and encourage parents to have full access, to be involved in all parts of their child’s public education. I want their priorities to include safety in our schools, transparent curriculum, a good, solid and useful education, and respectful and responsible interaction among students and teachers.

That is why I strongly support Anita Humlie, Audrey Aase and Shellie Reyes for the McMinnville School Board.

Loretta Johnson



No better choice

It is with great enthusiasm that I recommend Lu Ann Anderson for the McMinnville School Board.

Lu Ann has broad educational experience, having served students from pre-kindergarten through college. She is a professional of the utmost talent. She has developed innovative programming that has improved student outcomes in the district and further engaged the great educators that serve our students and families.

I worked with Lu Ann when I served as the district’s director of food services. I am well aware of her dedication to our community and her outstanding ability to work collaboratively with others — an essential skill for a board member.

I encourage you to vote for Lu Ann Anderson for the McMinnville School Board. There is no better choice.

Cinthia Hiatt-Henry




Two thumbs up Mark Bierly.


Jennifer Smark... I completely agree. And think if more people really dug into this and looked at what this is, they would be against it.


Well said Mark Bierly!


The bare minimum of citizenry is to vote. Please don't make the rest of us us do the heavy lifting all the time. VOTE


Joe Biden declared that the pandemic is over in Sept of 2022. Even the WHO has "downgraded its assessment of the coronavirus pandemic".

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