Lake Oswego parent and Nike Accounting Director Sara Pocklington announced Sunday that she plans to make a bid for School Board Position 3, giving Lake Oswego voters their first contested race in the May 16 election.
Pocklington will face off against incumbent John Wendland, who filed the necessary paperwork on Feb. 7 to seek a third four-year term.
"I'm thrilled to announce my candidacy," Pocklington said. "I wholeheartedly believe that as a parent of young children in this district, it is my responsibility to offer the community a voice on the board that represents families and children who will be impacted for many years by decisions that are made today."
At this point, only one person is running for each of the other two available School Board seats. Board member Liz Hartman filed Feb. 6 to pursue a second term in Position 4, and Lake Oswego resident Rob Wagner filed for Position 2 on Feb. 7 after Board Chair Sarah Howell announced that she will not seek re-election.
Candidates have until March 16 to enter all three at-large contests.
As for the newest candidate, Pocklington is a home-grown volunteer. She was raised in Lebanon (near Corvallis) and earned a Bachelor of Science in accounting from the University of Oregon. Her volunteer experience in the district includes serving as chairwoman of the Safety and Technology Advisory Committee to the Lake Oswego School District in 2015. She is also a parent club volunteer at River Grove Elementary School, where her son Andrew is a third-grader and daughter Ava is a first-grader.
Pocklington also has led an annual food drive that brought in more than 2,000 donations to a food bank at Our Savior's Lutheran Church in Lake Oswego.
River Grove Parent Club President Sheri Buck (speaking as an individual and not for the club) said she is a proud supporter of Pocklington and looks forward "to having her help shape the future of our district" as someone whose children haven't already grown up and left to pursue a college degree and career.
"With only two of five School Board members having children enrolled in the district, it's important that we have a voice representing parents whose kids will be in the district for years to come," Buck said. "I think it's really important to have someone who is living and breathing what our kids and parents are going through at the schools, especially an elementary parent."
Pocklington currently serves as the school site captain for the Lake Oswego Schools Foundation, and she is a school liaison for the LO Robotics Club, a nonprofit organization that aims to expand opportunities for children to participate in robotics events.
In addition to someone with an elementary parent perspective who's willing to give of her time, Pocklington is a strong leader, Buck added.
"There's always going to be those that are critical, but she just has a grace to her under pressure," Buck said.
Dan McKenzie, a Lake Oswego resident and vice president of global accounting at Nike, also praised Pocklington's leadership skills.
"She is dedicated, innovative, level-headed and works well with a wide variety of people," McKenzie said. "She takes the time to solicit input and do her homework to fully understand the issues she is working on."
Pocklington and her longtime partner, Ricard Aleu, live in the Westlake neighborhood. In addition to Andrew and Ava, the couple co-parents Aleu's kids, Marc and Bet, who attend school in Beaverton.
Pocklington said it is her own mother, Cheryl Wilkinson, who inspired her to run for office. Wilkinson, who lives near Corvallis, spent the majority of her career in the Central Linn and Greater Albany school districts working as a public health advocate. Pocklington also pointed to LOSD Superintendent Heather Beck's philosophy toward education as another key influence.
"Thanks to her example, I realized how privileged I have been from a very young age, even growing up with modest means, and that I have an obligation to be a voice for those less fortunate," Pocklington said. "I would be honored to have the opportunity to serve the district on behalf of all students and families, and Dr. Beck's mantra of 'all means all' deeply resonates with me. I'm looking forward to talking to members of our school community to find out what keeps them up at night and how we could serve them better."
Reached for comment Monday, Wendland said he hopes a contested School Board race doesn't detract from other things that need the public's attention. The May ballot will also include a bond measure for school facilities, and the Lake Oswego Schools Foundation is working on its fundraising campaign this spring.
"I wish with all the important stuff, the Foundation campaign and the bond campaign, that we would have had uncontested races, so everyone could be focused on those two things," Wendland said. "But we are in a free democracy, and it's part of our political system. And I'm very happy to be part of that political system."
She also has a website, www.sarapocklington.org, and a Facebook page, facebook.com/sara4losd.