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Vote on Board Seats, Budget Autonomy

Three seats are up for election to the Portland Board of Education on Nov. 8: two at-large seats and the District 3 seat. Only the District 3 seat is contested on the ballot.

Portland voters will also vote on Question 5, which would allow the Board to set the bottom line of the school budget before sending to voters for a final say.

District 3 Board member Adam Burk, who is currently the Board’s vice chair, is running for a second three-year term on the Board. He is being challenged for that seat by candidates Julianne Opperman and Samuel Rosenthal.

The Board members currently holding two at-large seats – Benjamin Grant and Sarah Lentz – are seeking re-election. They face no opponents on the ballot.

Grant and Lentz were both elected this past June to fill seats vacated by two at-large Board members who stepped down from the Board last fall after being elected to the Portland City Council. When Grant and Lentz won those at-large seats in June, only six months remained in the terms for the two seats, so both Board members now are running again this November for new three-year terms.

Board and City Council races in Portland are decided by ranked choice voting.

Question 5 is supported by the Board of Public Education and Superintendent Xavier Botana, who believe that this City Charter change would benefit public education in Portland.

Botana has explained his support of Question 5 in an op-ed he wrote in the Portland Press Herald titled: "Yes’ on Question 5 will let our school board do its job” and in his October column in The Forecaster, headlined “School Board will be good fiscal stewards of school budget.” 

Board Chair Emily Figdor explained her support for Question 5 in an op-ed she co-wrote with City Councilor Anna Trevorrow, a former Board member who was chair of the Board's Finance Committee. Their Press Herald piece is titled: 
"Portland’s Question 5 will make our schools better."

On Oct. 26, the district held a Parent University Zoom session where two panelists debated both the pro and con perspectives on Question 5. Board Chair Emily Figdor spoke in favor of the question and Portland Rep. Michael Brennan spoke against it. Watch the debate HERE.

Portland residents can vote absentee or in person. Click HERE for more information about voting in Portland on the City Clerk’s website.