Umpqua Community College’s board of education has two contested races in the May election.

Twila McDonald, Vincent Portulano and Kristapher Yates are all running for zone 1, a spot vacated by Betty Tamm who had been sworn in July 2007. Incumbent Doris Lathrop and Keri Pratt will face off for zone 2.

Current zone 4 director David Littlejohn is running an uncontested race for zone 3. Erica Mills is the only candidate to take over the remaining two years of Littlejohn’s original term in zone 4.

Littlejohn said he remains passionate about education and would like to continue serving on the board of directors, but he recently moved into zone 3. Wendy Weikum is the current zone 3 director and decided not to run.

Randy Richardson is also running uncontested for zone 6, Southeast County, which was vacated by Joelle McGrorty after two years on the board.

Guy Kennerly, zone 5, and Steve Loosley, zone 7, are not up for reelection.

Here is a little more detail about the candidates for zone 1 and 2:

Zone 1

Twila McDonald

McDonald is a district manager and vice president of U.S. Bank who graduated with a master’s degree in management from Southern Oregon University. She also has a bachelor’s degree in management and marketing from the University of Oregon and attended both Lane Community College and Umpqua Community College.

From 2009 to 2015 McDonald was a member of the Yoncalla School Board.

McDonald did not return a phone call and email from The News-Review.

Vincent Portulano

Portulano was elected to the Oakland school board in 2017 and works as a substitute teacher with the Douglas Education Service District and hopes to build stronger bridges with area school to help students prepare for their future.

“A big issue is helping our students with disabilities continue with their education once they graduate from high school,” Portulano wrote in a statement. “The rates of the students with disabilities continuing their education dramatically drop. The services for them take a huge drop in the colleges since those services are very minimal.”

He holds a master’s degree in special education from Grand Canyon University and a master’s degree in MFA from Portland State University. He also has a bachelor’s degree in political science from Washington State University and a general studies associate’s degree from Bellevue Community College.

“We need to see a diversification of relying on state funds from the timber industries,” Portulano wrote. “The state needs to strengthen the community colleges by making them affordable or free of tuition for residents in a set geographical region.”

He also wrote about trying to create a relevant educated job force in the Umpqua basin.

Kristapher Yates

Yates is a senior at the Oregon Institute of Technology, studying operations management with a minor in statistics and psychology.

He graduated from UCC in 2017 where he served as an academic advisor, student life liaison, library aide and tutor.

In June 2015, Yates plead guilty to assaulting a public safety officer in Lane County in 2013.

Yates did not respond to phone calls or emails from The News-Review.

Zone 2

Doris Johnson Lathrop

Lathrop was elected in July 2015 as the zone 2, North Central, board member and is hoping her expertise will provide her the privilege of continuing to serve.

“I have a vast understanding of the current issues around secondary education and my 20 years of service to UCC provided me the foundation for my first term in office for the board of education,” Lathrop said.

Lathrop used to be the director of institutional advancement prior to her retirement. She holds a master’s degree in education from the University of Wisconsin, Whitewater and a bachelor’s in education from the University of Winsconsin, Eau Claire.

She has served on the school board of the Oregon Community College Association where she regularly met with UCC President Debra Thatcher, as well as selected board members from all 17 community colleges in Oregon.

“I’m current on the community college issues include funding and student success and access,” Lathrop said. “My goal is to advocate, communicate and collaborate in order to strengthen Umpqua Community College for the benefit of our students.”

Keri Pratt

Pratt said she knows how important it is to find a place where you gain the skills required to enter the workforce and if elected she would do her best to ensure valuable educational opportunities are available at a reasonable cost.

“Whether it be for retraining, entering the workforce for the first time, or just furthering your education, the more diverse the course options offered, the more attractive it makes a Community College to prospective students,” Pratt said.

She worked in medical office billing and management for 30 years and said she believes a vibrant and diverse community college is an asset to all citizens of the county.

Pratt also believes in cultivating partnerships with individuals and organizations that can help those students.

Sanne Godfrey can be reached at sgodfrey@nrtoday.com or 541-957-4203. Follow her on Twitter @sannegodfrey.

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Education Reporter

Sanne Godfrey is the education reporter for The News-Review.

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