Voting for two spots on the Evergreen Public Schools Board of Directors opened Friday.
In District 1, incumbent Julie Bocanegra faces Mike Appel.
Bocanegra, who has held the seat since 2012, has deep roots in the Vancouver business and education communities. She manages a branch of Columbia Credit Union and is a former chair of the Battle Ground Chamber of Commerce. In the fall of 2020, Bocanegra was selected to the Washington State School Directors Association Board.
Her son, Zach, is a graduate of Heritage High School.
In a candidate questionnaire submitted to The Columbian, Bocanegra emphasized her interest in ensuring the voices of the community reflect decisions that are made by the board and having active, open conversations on controversial subjects.
“When our students succeed, our communities are better because of it,” Bocanegra wrote. “My goal is to make the best decisions possible that give students opportunities and pathways for a better future. I will do this by being respectful and practicing civil discourse in every interaction.”
Her challenger, Appel, openly criticizes decisions made by the board regarding the district’s teaching of history and sex education — two subjects he said teach children “misguided shame and guilt.”
Appel, a grandparent, said he wants a quality education for his grandchild without “harmful indoctrinations” and fears many aspects of Evergreen’s curricula are biased and revisionist in nature.
“I want to do whatever I can do to stop the inappropriate and unnecessary comprehensive sex education, and the dangerous and racist teachings of critical race theory,” Appel wrote in the questionnaire. Bocanegra noted in an interview with The Columbian’s editorial board that critical race theory is a college concept that is not taught in public schools.
In District 5, incumbent Ginny Gronwoldt faces Amanda Breck.
Gronwoldt was elected in 2017. A mother of three children who attend Evergreen schools, she is a former president of the Evergreen School District Foundation and the parent-teacher association at York Elementary School.
Before that, she worked for nearly 20 years in finance and banking and has taught classes in financial responsibility.
Gronwoldt said she prioritizes investment into children first and that the educational landscape is always changing, and her actions as a school board member will continue to reflect that.
“There is always room for improvement, and we continue to grow through our service and are committed to building a strong team and culture and to always be better and do better in service to our students,” Gronwoldt wrote in the questionnaire.
Her challenger, Amanda Breck, chose not to respond to The Columbian’s questionnaire but said she is happy to answer any questions directly from the public.
Breck, a mother of two and former student in the Evergreen School District, said on her website that she is dedicated to children receiving full-time, in-person education and making up for lost time due to the pandemic. In her response to a Southwest Washington Education survey, Breck said she believes masking and vaccination rules should be left up to parents and children.