School race in Camas drama-free

Candidates for lone contested seat share priorities for district

By Tom Vogt, Columbian science, military & history reporter

Published:

 

With only one contested Camas school board race, both candidates agree that this election is not a matter of turning things around in the district: It's about making good programs even better for the district's 6,000 or so students.

"There is not a push to make changes in the Camas school board," incumbent Julie Rotz said.

"Thank goodness we don't have drama," said Erika Cox, challenger in the District 2 race. "I just want to play a part."

Rotz, who joined the board in 2009 as an unopposed candidate, says the quality of Camas schools is the reason her family is there.

Camas School Board

• Term: Four years.

• Number of school board members: Five.

• Number of contested board positions: One; one candidate is running uncontested.

• What school board members do: They set the policies and hire the superintendent, who reports directly to the board.

• Compensation: Board members may receive up to $50 per day for attending board meetings and for performing other services on behalf of the school district, not to exceed $4,800 per year.

"I moved to Camas from Vancouver because of the school district," Rotz said, based on data indicating that Camas "was the best place for us to be."

In listing their priorities, both candidates cited an early-learning effort — the Literacy Early Advocacy Program, or LEAP. Camas restored it in 2012 after it was the victim of a district budget cut several years ago. LEAP promotes literacy for qualifying kindergartners, identified through a screening process at the three elementary schools.

"We're looking at early literacy and expanding the LEAP program," Rotz said. "It's growing, and I'd like to be a part of that."

It's an aspect of education that she's familiar with, Rotz said, through her own children — a fourth-grader in Helen Baller Elementary and a 2-year-old.

Cox, the challenger, also had the LEAP program on her list of priorities. She cited her passion for early childhood education, noting the ripple effects it can have through the rest of a student's school career. Cox said that she would move to implement full-day kindergarten in Camas, with a corresponding push to get state funding for it.

Among her major endorsements, Rotz lists three current members of the Camas school board. Her campaign material lists several advances in technology the district has made in the four years Rotz has been on the board, including the purchase of 950 iPad minis for students in grades three through eight.

Cox lists eight years of school volunteer service at all levels of the district, including her current position as chairwoman of the citizens advisory committee.

"We often hear information before the school board does," Cox said.

Incumbent Casey O'Dell is running unopposed in District 1.

photoJulie Rotz
photoErika Cox

JULIE ROTZ

• Age: 36

• Occupation: Senior consultant, HotDocs Corp.

• Campaign funds raised: $200.

• Major endorsements: H-RoC (short for Hand that Rocks the Cradle Rules the World, an independent, nonpartisan PAC committed to the advancement of women's leadership); Camas school board members Doug Quinn, Casey O'Dell and Mary Tipton; former board member Mel Cardon.

• Website: http://rotzforcamasschoolboard.weebly.com/

ERIKA COX

• Age: 40.

• Occupation: Former Microsoft public relations strategist.

• Campaign funds raised: $700.

• Major endorsements: None.

• Website: http://www.CoxForCamasSchoolBoard.blogspot.com