Election 2021 - Manson School Board Candidates


Susan (Miller) Fox

Jennifer Pittman

Allan Torgesen

Catherine Willard

MANSON - In Manson, school board positions for District 4 and District 5 are up for election in 2021. District 4 and 5 are at large, meaning that they represent the entire geographic area of Manson and not a specific location. An impressive five candidates are running for District #4 and two candidates are running for District #5.
District 4 Candidates: Jennifer Pittman, Catherine Willard, Allan Torgesen, Blanca Lehman and Susie (Miller) Fox
District 5 Candidates: Greg Neff, Janel Lyman
Candidate Profiles
Jama England, current District 4 board member, is not listed as running for reelection.
District 4 Candidate Jennifer Pittman was not available for immediate comment, but her answers will be included in a later edition
In an email, Candidate Catherine Willard said that she decided to run for Manson School District because she wants to, “share my time and abilities to preserve the quality, and improve where needed, the educational opportunities of the Manson School District.”
She said that she has two teenage sons in the district which have been thriving in the district since preschool. She volunteered for PTAC and the Options program when her sons were in elementary school. Willard is a Senior Fisheries Biologist for Chelan County PUD where she evaluates monitoring and evaluation programs for salmon and steelhead population.
Willard mentioned how her career working with data for the Chelan PUD fisheries program transfers over to interpreting data which can help schools guide decisions like academic data, disproportionate data, attendance data, and transportation data.  She thinks that the school district can improve on collecting and evaluating quantitative data.
Additionally, Willard said that her years of living in the Manson community with children currently enrolled in the school has enabled her to develop relationships that allow her to create strong ties between the school board and families.
As a school board member, Willard plans to enhance the Career Technical Educational Program by offering courses which are relevant to the valley such as hospitality and viticulture. She plans to lower the achievement gap by reviewing school district data to ensure English language learners are receiving the instruction they need to be prepared for their next level of learning.
Allan Torgesen is another candidate for District 4 and he said that he is running for school board for three reasons. First, he wants to help the school board continue to experience success. Secondly, he thinks that parent involvement is extremely important and is a parent of children currently in the district. Third, he wants to make sure that the school board remains financially responsible.
Torgesen said that he has advisory responsibilities and direct management decisions for small groups and large groups. He has worked for JP Morgan Chase, AT&T and Manson Growers and had responsibilities managing budgets and making sure corporate assets were used responsibly in those positions.
Torgesen said that his professional experience helped him well for asking critical questions, working to reach and reevaluate goals, and setting up processes. When asked about reducing inequality, he said that we need to understand what the gaps are, find a way and create a plan to address those gaps.
Torgeson moved to Manson in 2016 because he had an opportunity to join Manson Growers. Before that, he was living in Columbus, Ohio and wanted to get back to a small town experience.
Blanca Lehman is running for District 4 and wants to help get more Spanish speaking members in the community involved in the schools. She doesn’t think that the current school board is an accurate reflection of the actual demographics in the valley.
Lehman said that in order to address inequalities we need to get more families involved in school activities. She said that the more people get involved, the more that they will be able to see similarities with others instead of differences.  
Lehman has worked as a substitute in the Manson School District and a paraeducator in the Lake Chelan School District. Communication is one of the reasons Lehman wants to be on the school board and thinks it’s very important for all involved in the district. Two policies that she wants to see overturned are critical race theory and the comprehensive sexual health education implementation.
Susie Fox is another candidate for District 4. She graduated from Manson High School and has 33 years of teaching experience, mostly in Spokane. She has a master’s degree in curriculum, administration, and instruction from Gonzaga  University with administrative endorsement/ principal credentials.
Fox said that she taught at Rogers High School in Spokane for nine years and helped raise the graduation rate from 49% to 92% during that time. When she worked as a department chair for middle schools for over 21 years, she said that she never exceeded the money allotted to the department.
Fox said that she is running for school board because she is being called by a higher power. She said that because of her experience working in the school system and as a peer mediator she won’t have to spend any “catch up” time learning the basics.  Fox wants to keep Critical Race Theory and the current sex education mandate out of schools
For the District 5 position, Greg Neff and Janel Lyman were not immediately available for comment. Their answers will be included in a later edition.
According to the Manson School District website, Neff is the current incumbent. He has 35 years of experience teaching grades four through six and was a theatre arts director for 10 years. He graduated from Whitworth College in 1975 with a B.A. in reading.

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