Leslee Sipp in 2020. Photo: City of Banks
Leslee Sipp and her family have lived in the Banks area since 1974, living in the same home outside city limits. She's worked on again and off again for the Banks School District for decades, and said she is retired, but still works part-time as a substitute teacher for the district.
This year, Sipp, 74, is running for election for the Banks School Board in position 1.
She’s running against Jodi Hailey, and on the ballot, Chad Mueller, who suspended his campaign for the position and instead asked voters to write him in for position 2.
In an interview with the Banks Post, Sipp expounded on her reasons for running for the board.
Asked what she would look for in a superintendent for the Banks School District if tasked with seeking one, Sipp had a number of qualifications she would seek in a candidate for the job.
“I would look for a community-minded person that is open for the community's input, who gets information out to the community,” Sipp said. “I look for someone who loves kids who has had experience in teaching. A team player, someone who can listen, and someone you can get along with,” she said.
Moving into the next school year, it’s likely that some of the larger continued impacts of the coronavirus pandemic will have ceased, especially with vaccines available to those ages 12 and up and the potential for a vaccine for those even younger. Asked what her priorities would be if elected and sworn in on July 1, Sipp laid out what her first tasks would be.
“I trust our staff, and I trust our administration. I’ve seen them work. And it’s amazing. I think we’re an amazing school district, and we will do whatever it takes,” she said.
“We know there’s going to be challenges. We know that we’re gonna have some kids with challenges, coming in that have not had school for a whole year. But I think we’re prepared.”
Asked how she would work with other elected officials in partnership on the school board, Sipp noted her past actions in working with community organizations as an active volunteer. Sipp was recognized in 2020 by the city of Banks as Banks’ citizen of the year.
“I would like to have a community partnership where we are there for them and they're there for us and I think we have some of that,” she said.
Sipp’s connectedness in the greater Banks community is no secret, between her employment at the Banks School District, her work with the Banks School District Family Resource Center, her efforts at the Banks United Methodist Church food bank, and in other community groups.
“I have a lot of people who support me in all of my endeavors. Anything that I've tried to do in Banks, I get support,” Sipp said. “Because it's all of us living together and kind of working things out making life just a little bit easier.”
“You can't come into a school board with an agenda,” Sipp said. “You just can't. Our whole idea is, the best for kids, the best for our staff, the best for our administration. We want the best. And so, that's what I'll be working for. I am not going to go in with any agenda.”
The special district election will end May 18 at 8 p.m.; it is too late to mail a ballot, but voters can visit a 24-hour ballot drop box in the driveway of the Banks Public Library, on Pacific Ave. in front of the Forest Grove City Library, and at other locations dotted throughout the county.
According to the Washington County Elections office, the vast majority of registered voters in Washington County have yet to cast a ballot, with only 69,396 ballots, or 18% of all registered voters participating as of Monday morning.