Salem-Keizer school board candidate donations get political
All six candidates for Salem-Keizer Public Schools’ board of directors have received some level of support from political action committees so far this election, despite school board races being nonpartisan.
Candidates had to report their campaign finances to the Oregon Secretary of State last week. The election is May 16.
How to vote5 things to know about the May 16 election
Who is running?
Open school board seats this year are in Zone 2, which covers northeast Salem; Zone 4, which covers South Salem, and Zone 6, which covers Keizer.
Though board members represent distinct zones, the elections are districtwide, meaning voters select a representative for every open seat. School board members serve four-year terms.
In Zone 2, educator Cynthia Richardson is running against parent Casity Troutt. In Zone 4, incumbent Satya Chandragiri, a psychiatrist, is running against Willamette University professor Kelley Strawn. In zone 6, retired university administrator Larry Scruggs is running against Krissy Hudson, who works at the Oregon Department of Justice.
More about the candidates:Meet this year’s candidates for Salem-Keizer Public Schools board of directors
Who has donated to them?
Oregon Right to Life, a conservative anti-abortion PAC, gave $200 each in in-kind donations to the campaigns of Troutt, Chandragiri and Hudson.
David Kilada, former political director of Oregon Right to Life, is helping manage those candidates’ campaigns. Kilada now runs Intisar Strategies, a political consulting firm dedicated to center-right candidates and issues. He’s been calling for years for anti-abortion advocates to serve on local school boards.
Decisions about abortion access are a state and federal issue and local school board members have little to no say on state-mandated reproductive health education in local schools. But the debates at the district level over things like sex education, the banning of controversial books and the teaching of issues related to equity have become increasingly divided.
Marion + Polk First PAC, which supports “center-right candidates and causes,” gave nearly $9,000 to Chandragiri’s campaign in cash and in-kind donations. It also donated $2,000 to Troutt’s campaign and $1,400 to Hudson’s. According to its website, the PAC supports prioritizing safety, reinstating academic rigor, expanding honors and career training programs and restoring trust with parents.
PCUN, Oregon’s farmworker union, donated roughly $1,200 to Cynthia Richardson’s and Kelley Strawn’s campaigns.
Richardson’s campaign also received $600 from Communities of Color for a Just Oregon. The organization, according to its website, supports “progressive BIPOC leaders seeking public office at the local or state level in Oregon.” It advocates for public education, access to affordable healthcare, the right to abortion and other reproductive healthcare, and civil rights.
Both Strawn’s and Richardson’s campaigns reported several hundred dollars in in-kind donations from Friends of Tom Anderson. Anderson served on the Salem City Council and is now a Democratic state representative.
Scruggs reported a $400 in-kind donation from the Marion County Democratic Central Committee.