The owner of a Portland diesel repair shop is challenging longtime incumbent Wendy Arends for the Green Mountain School District’s fifth board position.
Arends, 49, a project manager for GRO Outdoor Living in Vancouver, has been a board member for about 10 years. She initially took over the position from a former member and then was elected twice. This is the first time anyone has run against her, she said.
Both of her children, who are now in college, attended Green Mountain School through the sixth grade.
Arends’ opponent, 44-year-old Cameron Tormanen, has five children at the school, ranging from first to eighth grade. He also has five older children who went to Green Mountain School.
“I’ve had a lot of children go through (the school district). Somebody needs to help out. I figured this would be one way that I could,” he said.
Tormanen said if elected, he would bring 22 years of business experience to the board.
Arends, who describes the current board as “a unique five,” said re-electing her would cut out the “substantial” amount of time it takes to learn the “ins-and-outs” of the board. “It’s such a learning curve to start fresh,” she said.
“Everyone has a different skill set and background. We work very well together,” Arends added. “It’s a big part of the motivation — not to break up the team. We know we are doing great things for these kids.”
Both candidates agree money and space are the biggest problems facing the district.
“It’s a small school district, and there’s always funding issues that are changing and don’t always involve the smaller districts,” Arends said. “We are keeping a very tight budget at this point.”
Tormanen said he’s concerned there’s not enough room in the budget to tackle overcrowding.
“This is a small school, small area. We are probably going to need a new building or add-on,” he said. “The portables will help for a while. But if the district keeps growing like it has been, there will need to be talk of something new.”
Portables were installed last year so that there would be one classroom per grade level. The change began last spring, but this is the first full school year with the new class structure, Arends said.
She said implementing the change has been the school board’s greatest recent accomplishment.