Dist. 26 dispute: York is a teacher - technically, at least


News staff writer

October 4, 2006

Senatorial candidate Carol York has made another questionable statement in the Voters’ Pamphlet that has already been sent to military members and will arrive in other mailboxes by Oct. 18.

York, who resides in Hood River, declined to personally comment on the accuracy of her claim to be a certified teacher. She passed a reporter’s questions on to spokesperson Michael Gay, who runs her Clackamas County campaign office.

He denied that it was misleading for York to use the title of teacher in the present tense — even though it has been almost 30 years since she earned certification in physical education from New York State.

At issue is this sentence, “I am a certified teacher who understands that just throwing money at problems without sensible solutions is not the answer.”

Gay verified on Monday that York has never taught in Oregon. However, she has recently been photographed in a classroom for campaign material that was mailed late last week. According to Gay, York is perfectly within her right to make the claim.

“She could walk into a New York classroom today if she was hired and be a teacher,” said Gay. “She’s been through the process and I think that qualifies her in knowing the needs of the classroom and what it takes to be a teacher.”

York, a Republican, is challenging Democratic Sen. Rick Metsger for the District 26 seat in the Nov. 7 general election. In an ironic twist, there is another Carol York who teaches in a fifth-grade Milwaukie classroom --- and whose daughter’s orthodontist recently offered monetary support for her campaign.

Gay said candidate York has assisted in Oregon classrooms. He said her long-standing support for education is evidenced by her service as former chair of the Columbia Gorge Community College Small Business Development Center Advisory Committee. And her continuing involvement in college and local scholarship programs.

“This is an issue of huge importance to her,” he said.

In her campaign literature, York is supporting the national movement spearheaded by First Class Education to channel 65 cents of every general fund dollar directly into the classroom. She joins other proponents of that plan in the contention that only 59 cents is now given to K-12 schools in Oregon — which is $240 million less than desired.

However, the Chalkboard Project, an independent and nonpartisan group that monitors school spending, recently reported that 69 cents of every $1 received by the state goes into the classroom. And that figure rises to almost 70 percent in some areas of the state, including Hood River County.

According to reports, York and her husband, Peter Fotheringham, moved full-time to Hood River County in 1988 to establish Gorge Publishing, Inc. They had traveled to the area from Seattle, Wash., where they had lived since 1981, to gather material for Northwest Sailboard Magazine, which they co-founded.

York came to the Pacific Northwest after gaining her teaching certification in 1977 from St. Lawrence University in New York. She finished up her graduate work at the University of Washington and then took on duties as supervisor of King County’s 17 indoor pools, one outdoor pool and 10 swimming beaches.

In 1997 York was appointed to the District 1 seat on the Hood River County Board of Commissioners. She was subsequently elected to the role in 2002 but decided not to run this year in order to devote her time to the state race.

The teaching issue is the second of York’s statements in the Voters’ Pamphlet to spark attention. She drew fire from Metsger in September for an assertion that he opposed requiring proof of citizenship or legal residency before an immigrant could apply for a driver’s license.

In fact, in 2003 Metsger authored Senate Bill 586 that required proof of residency before a driver’s license was issued. In addition, an immigrant could not obtain an identification card without that proof. Metsger also provide a stack of correspondence traded with constituents that backed up his longtime belief that a driver’s license should not be issued to anyone but a lawful resident of Oregon.

York said she had relied on statements about Metsger’s stand from a source that she declined to reveal.

“I’ve been told that he killed a bill by not letting it go forward,” she said.

Metsger, who chaired the Senate Transportation and Economic Development Committee in 2003, said SB586 and two other pieces of similar legislation, one in the House, died due to lack of support.

He was asked to comment on York’s teaching status but declined. Metsger said he prefers to “stay on the high road and keep focusing on the issues.”

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