School board candidates state their case

Seated for the Wasco County Republican Central Committee’s D21 school board candidate forum are, left to right, Sherry Perry, Mary Morehouse, Bethani Frantz-Studebaker, Josh Farris, Trudy Lupkes, Cassie Ware and Jose Aparicio.

Editor’s note: The Wasco County Republican Central Committee held a D21 school board informational candidate forum at its monthly meeting in April. Eight of the 13 candidates for the non-partisan positions attended. The Chronicle is presenting their responses in a series of articles. Following are the statements of the three candidates for Zone 6, Trudy Lupkes, Cassie Ware and Jose Aparicio.

Trudy Lupkes

Trudy Lupkes was the first to answer questions posed to the three candidates for North Wasco County School District 21 zone 6. Of the seven seats on the board, six are up for election on the May 21 ballot.

She said she first joined the facilities committee—open to anyone in the public—that helped design a proposed new high school, and from there was asked to join the political action committee backing the $235 million bond to replace four schools last year.

Then she began regularly attending school board meetings. “I have had my issues with the school board, like a lot of moms, but I think a lot of good things are going on.”

She works in accounting, most recently for Orchard View, and said she is dependable and responsible.

She also takes on jobs that are project-specific. “I love watching a project go from chaos to coordination.” She said she’s a problem solver.

She said she’s into numbers and is “really black and white” and would like to know why schools are struggling financially.

“For me, it’s about family and community and becoming a unit together,” she said.

Her vision for the board is that it needs to be a cohesive team and ask more questions of the district superintendent.

Cassie Ware

Cassie Ware said she attended Sonrise Academy and then went to Bible college, getting a certificate in biblical studies. She then did a lot of volunteer work and volunteer coordination with local groups. She established the community’s veterans breakfast on Veterans Day, a volunteer effort.

“I love to set people up for success and help build that foundation,” Ware said, and then “step back and just let them blossom.”

She believes local schools are the number one thing in the community that need to be set up for success, and that isn’t happening right now.

“Let’s make it good, so everybody can thrive,” she said.

She’s a homemaker and is learning to look at things the way her children do, and to slow down. “A relationship is more important than the product in most cases,” she said.

Ware was a vocal opponent of the facilities bond on social media. She said she enjoys research and believes in fact-finding from the source, and she also fact-checks herself. She said it was important to her to be evenhanded and factual.

She said she tries to be intuitive and empathetic, and said without having a sense of relationship with others, “you’re just a boss or a bully.”

She said public speaking wasn’t her strong suit, “but people are.”

Jose Aparicio

Jose Aparicio said he grew up in Umatilla, got a bachelor’s degree in construction management, worked in California for a number of years, and recently moved to The Dalles for a job.

He stayed here to take another local job, since The Dalles “struck a chord” with him and his wife, and now he is managing construction of new bond-funded facilities for the Hood River Valley School District.

He said the job has made him jealous, because he was able to see what Hood River’s school district was able to achieve with its bond.

“We have a tough road ahead of us, but working together we can get there,” he said.

He said getting facilities would mean “opening up the pocketbook, because unfortunately, that’s the reality we’re in.”

He said companies have “prototype facilities” that could be used, instead of designing one from the ground up, which would be more expensive.

Listing skills he’d bring to the board, he cited his background in construction management specifically related to school buildings. He also feels relationships are important, and he brings that aspect to the board as well.

He said he considers himself a success of the public school system, and said the upcoming election was very important, with lots of decisions facing the new board.

The new board will name a new superintendent and make decisions on facilities.

He said he is running because he’d like his own children to have successful schools.

He added that The Dalles has economic challenges and language barriers for many, which is reminiscent of his hometown.

He said he wanted to be on the school board because it would enable Spanish speakers to approach him and converse in their native tongue.

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