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City Club of Eugene: Changes on The Eugene 4J Board? - A Candidate Forum

Program Date: April 9, 2021

Air Date: April 12, 2021

From the City Club of Eugene:

On May 18, voters in Eugene School District 4j will have the opportunity to choose among the candidates for three seats on the board. 

The race for Position 3 features two newcomers to elective politics taking on an incumbent.  The race for Position 6 has only one candidate, hoping to replace veteran Jim Torrey, who was appointed to fill a seat unexpectedly vacated mid-term. (A second candidate for Position 6 dropped out too late for his name to be deleted from the ballot.) Two new candidates vie for Position 2. For 12 years, this seat was held by Anne Marie Levis, who withdrew from the race to clear the path for a candidate who, she said, “Can do some of the things I can’t.” Then a second candidate tossed his hat in the ring at the last minute. In this program, all six candidates will describe their credentials and opinions about key issues. The order of speakers was set by random drawing. While the positions are numbered, the seats are at-large, and everyone in the district gets to vote on all positions.

Position 3:

Tom Di Liberto, Judy Newman & Bryan Costa

Position 6:

Maya Rabasa

Position 2:

Laural O’Rourke & Harry Sanger

Speakers:

Tom Di Liberto taught for 31 years in the Spanish Immersion program at Monroe Middle School, where he was hired as the 4J District’s first secondary-level immersion teacher. After retiring from Monroe in 2018, Tom has continued to work with 4j students. An avid musician, Tom volunteered at Monroe Middle School in the school’s band program until COVID halted in-person instruction.  For the past two years, Tom has helped train student teachers at Pacific University, as well as at the University of Oregon, where he earned a Master’s Degree in Education.

Incumbent Judy Newman has 40 years of experience in education.  In 1991, she co-founded Early Childhood CARES, a program that has served thousands of Lane County’s young children with developmental delays and disabilities and that has been used as a model in other communities. She has spent 25 years advocating at the Oregon State Legislature for better education funding, sound policies, and equity.  Currently she represents the 16 Lane County school districts on the Oregon School Board Association Legislative Policy Committee and chairs the Eugene 4J School Board Legislative Committee.

Bryan Costa is a manager at Metal Works Paint and Rust Removal. He coached wrestling at Churchill and Sheldon High School for more than a decade and served as a volunteer at Peace Jam Northwest, a Eugene-based organization that engages youth and Nobel laureates in tackling global problems locally. He was also a coach at Checkered Past MMA, working with survivors of domestic violence and substance abuse to build inner strength. 

Maya Rabasa is a 4J parent who has volunteered in a dozen local schools. She is a former teacher with experience at all levels, from early childhood through undergraduate classrooms. An immigrant from Mexico, Maya was raised in a bilingual home (Spanish and French) and learned English in public school. She sits on the board of Centro LatinoAmericano and serves on the 4J Budget and Equity Committees. Maya earned a BA in Anthropology and Romance Languages and an MA in International Studies and Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of Oregon. 

Laural O’Rourke works at the Lane County Department of Human Services, where she leads the Disaster Case Management Program, supporting residents displaced by the Holiday Farm fires. She served honorably in the U.S. Army and earned a BA in Sociology at Evergreen State University.  She has spent her career advocating for those in need.  Laural sits on the boards of SquareOne Villages and Carry it Forward, non-profit organizations serving people that are unhoused. She grew up in Eugene and, along with her 5 children, attended 4J schools.   

Harry Sanger is a Project Coordinator at Lane Transit District and a 4j parent. His current community service work includes membership on the River Road Community Organization Board and the River Road – Santa Clara Neighborhood Plan Community Advisory Committee.  He has also served on civic and community planning groups in Portland and Cottage Grove. He earned a BS in Business Information Technology at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and has a decade of professional experience working with emerging technologies.

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