Thompson withdraws from Portland School Board race

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Longtime Portland Board of Education member and former Chair Sarah Thompson on Tuesday ended her campaign for reelection.

Her decision leaves all three remaining School Board candidates unopposed in the Nov. 2 election.

Thompson had one opponent, Nyalat Biliew, for the at-large seat she has held for more than 15 years. Two other incumbents, Chair Emily Figdor and Abusano “Mickey” Bondo, are uncontested in Districts 1 and 2, respectively.

Sarah Thompson is ending her bid for reelection to the Portland School Board. (Courtesy Portland Public Schools)

Two other School Board members, Roberto Rodriguez and Anna Trevorrow, are running for the City Council.

Thompson was first elected to the School Board in 2006, and is its longest-tenured member. While she has served, the Portland Public Schools has had several superintendents, secured borrowing to replace four aging elementary schools, and navigated the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

In a prepared statement, Thompson said she began serving on the School Board when her oldest daughter was in sixth grade and her youngest was in third grade. She said Portland has changed “significantly” since that time, “in some ways for the better, and in some ways for the worse.”

She said the School Board and city politics have “changed drastically.”

“My focus has always been on collaboration, education, and bettering school environments for everyone in Portland,” Thompson said. “When I joined the board, I felt a sense of community with board members even during times of disagreement that I do not feel anymore. We were able to sit down and have conversations. Although there were disagreements, there always remained respectful discourse – assuming the best of one another and coming from a place of educating and informing.”

Thompson said she will continue to be an advocate for teachers and students, but her decision was the best one for “me, my family, and my mental health.”

“Over the last 15 years, I have worked tirelessly to make the Portland School District better for staff and students,” Thompson said. “I have met many friends along the way, and I am so grateful for all the support I have received over the years. I am incredibly proud of the work I have accomplished and will always wish the best for our staff and students.”