Election reveals divisions
In an effort to kick Planned Parenthood out of district schools, three conservative candidates ran in May’s Salem-Keizer School Board elections. All three were defeated by incumbents who support the work Planned Parenthood does teaching health classes in district schools.
Two of the three challengers, Denise Quinn Nanke and David Jacobson, filed too late and so were write-in candidates. Gayle Strawn, the third, was listed on the ballot against incumbent Rick Kimball.
In a statement, Strawn said Planned Parenthood, “promotes promiscuous behaviors,” and that she was running to “do everything [she] can to get Planned Parenthood out of our schools.”
Oregon Right to Life Political Action Committee (ORLPAC) backed the three conservatives. It describes Planned Parenthood as an organization that is an “abortion giant” and to help defeat it, sent election fliers to many area residents, asking them to “Vote for school board members who will protect our kids.”
The front side of the ORLPAC flier read, “The largest abortion organization in American teaches sex education in the Salem-Keizer school district” – the flip side said, “Your vote for school board can send them packing.”
The focus on Planned Parenthood and the convictions it engenders meant more voters, and more voter interest was evident than in typical school board elections. Progressive teams phoned progressive voters; conservatives reached out to other conservatives online and in church.
After election results were made public, conservative radio host Bill Pope mentioned his pleasure at the number of votes his candidates got, and his hope that in the future, conservatives will organize earlier to win such elections. Also on Pope’s program, former GOP Gubernatorial Allan Alley described a huge database he has developed and expressed the expectation that more support can be made for conservatives in the future with increased targeted outreach.
This suggests that future school board elections will reflect even more visibly the different values in our community.