Twelve candidates are vying for five seats, with two three-way races, on the Nyssa School District Board of Directors in the upcoming 2021 District Director Election on May 18.

Among those candidates are five incumbents. Position 3 is a two-year term, while the other four seats, Positions 4, 5, 6 and 7, are four-year terms.

Positions which have two-way races are Position 3, in which current board member Brett Johnson will run against Raymond Rau; Position 5, in which incumbent Patricia “Pat” Morinaka will run against Tammie Briner; and Position 7, in which board member Robert Fehlman will run against Megan Robbins.

In the three-way races are Position 4, for which incumbent Torie Ramirez will run against Susan Ramos and Greg Armenta; and Position 6, for which incumbent Kim Stipe will run against Jason Berry and Alesha Munk.

Candidates were all invited to participate in the Argus Observer’s introduction to the community. The deadline was noon on Monday, April 26.

Responses follow as submitted from those who replied in alphabetical order by last name. Answers that exceeded the word-limit were truncated, and indicated with an ellipses.

Tammie Briner

Occupation: no response submitted

Volunteer experience: I, myself, have volunteered in the Elementary school and I am one of the Nyssa Girl Scout troop leaders.

Political background: no response submitted

Why are you best candidate? Both of my daughters go to school in the Nyssa school district. I am very passionate about giving children the best opportunities.

What do you see as the main issues for the special district board you are running for? I am aware that there are many challenges that school districts face from budgets, contract negotiations, parental input, and the present climate of covid.

I know that in order to make the best decisions you must look at all the facts and sides of an issue.

I want to build a better relationship between the board, administration, teachers, and parents so that together we can do what is right for our children.

Have you ever been charged with a felony? no response submitted

Bret Johnson

Occupation: Family physician

Volunteer experience: I have served on the Nyssa School Board for the last year. I have volunteered as a youth coach in several different sports as well

Political background: Aside from serving on the Nyssa School Board for the last year, I do not have any other political background.

Why are you best candidate? I feel I am the best candidate because I have three soon to be four children currently in the Nyssa School District, so I am invested in all of the schools as well as the districts success. I also feel my profession as a physician during this time of COVID is invaluable …

What do you see as the main issues for the special district board you are running for? Making sure we are putting the students first and not falling prey the multiple distractions which are present due to COVID and have led to the students being placed on the back burner for much of the last year.

This will take the effort of the school board as well as the community as a whole. I want to make sure the community is part of the decision which are made through my communications with them.

Have you ever been charged with a felony? No

Pat Morinaka

Occupation: Morinaka Farms

Volunteer experience: Nyssa School Board, Board of Property Tax Appeals, Treasure Valley Community College Board, Ore-Ida Judo Club

Political background: N/A

Why are you best candidate? In the 2 and 1/2 years I have been a Nyssa School Board member I have become familiar with school and board policies and with budget, facility, staff and administration concerns. I understand the impact of federal and state legislation and policies. I listen to parents and patrons and understand local concerns.

What do you see as the main issues for the special district board you are running for? Students have suffered educationally, socially and emotionally through this pandemic. NSD is addressing and must continue to address these issues. The State legislature is also proposing a reduction in state school funding; this will have an impact. Our diverse student population reflects the on-going changes of our rapidly changing world and the district must be visionary in preparing them with the knowledge and skills to thrive now as well as after graduation.

Have you ever been charged with a felony? No

Alesha Munk, 40

Occupation: Dedicated mom

Volunteer experience: Prior to Covid, I have been a dedicated volunteer in the Nyssa Elementary classrooms, I have helped with concessions and chaperoning for the Nyssa Band program, I have been an active volunteer with the Nyssa Chamber of Commerce and I teach a scripture based, after school, class for girls each week.

Political background: I have never ran for a political office, but I feel that is a great strength because acquiring new and fresh ideas on any board is a way to reach more people and see things from a different viewpoint.

Why are you best candidate? I feel that the local teachers need more of a voice on the school board. I have watched my own children thrive under the care of their amazing instructors. These teachers deserve the utmost respect and appreciation for a job well done, now and moving forward. I believe that I will be able to be a voice of compassion and support for teachers.

What do you see as the main issues for the special district board you are running for? It is my intent to keep conservative values in our district as long as we can. Children should be taught not only reading and writing, but also civility, kindness and respect for others. Also, knowing the guidelines to keep our kids in school.

Keeping open communication with both teachers and parents with transparency in all board meetings.

Opening up sports, music and social clubs. Finding ways to give support to the teachers we have, while providing opportunities to recruit quality teachers, administrators and support staff in the future.

Have you ever been charged with a felony? No

Susan Ramos, 58

Occupation: Retired Nyssa Elementary School Teacher for 33 years in the same building

Volunteer experience: While I was working I did a lot of things at church, such as being in charge of coffee house, vacation Bible school and Sunday school, too.

Since I retired, I volunteer at the Nyssa Food Pantry about four and a-half hours a week.

Political background: None

Why are you best candidate? I want all students in Nyssa to be successful and for them to be successful, the teachers and staff have to be successful, too. I think being a former teacher, I know what they need to be successful. You can’t just hand them a new math book, they need materials and training, too.

What do you see as the main issues for the special district board you are running for? I’ve never been on board, but I’ve been to lots of meetings — but I think communication is a really big issue. Between the board and admin, between admin and staff. I don’t think the board has encouraged teachers … it should not be “us versus them.” We should all be working together to educate kids. I have a really diverse background with my family: My husband is an ESL learner, my youngest daughter has learning disabilities, I understand the struggles they go through. My oldest daughter was a sports freak, if it wasn’t for sports she wouldn’t have stayed in school.

Have you ever been charged with a felony? No

Raymond K. Rau, 54

Occupation: Police Chief

Volunteer experience: Faith Based Youth development programs (Royal Rangers, Vacation Bible School), Cooking and Delivering Community Thanksgiving and Christmas Dinners, Fish with a Cop, Shop with a Cop, Coaching Youth Football and Basketball, HS Football games sideline crew, Malheur County Homeless resource committee member.

Political background: Oregon Association of Chiefs of Police District 15 Director, Oregon Legislative resource and have provided written input for testimony.

Why are you best candidate? I have extensive experience in teaching, building and implementing curriculum, managing multimillion-dollar budgets, working on both sides of a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA or Union), and adhering to Human Resources guidelines. My graduate degree in Counseling allows me to listen effectively and create an atmosphere of mutual respect in problem solving. …

What do you see as the main issues for the special district board you are running for? I feel that elected school board members should know what their teachers, students, school administrators, parents, and community needs because they are members of the community themselves. If elected I will continue to be engaged within our community and volunteer at many of the same events that I currently participate in. It is important to me that a school board member regularly visit the schools so they can talk to the teachers, administrators, and students to develop a full understanding of what the potential issues and challenges are and then be able to make an informed decision by asking the people who are doing the job for answers. …

Have you ever been charged with a felony? No

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