Planned Parenthood of Greater Washington and North Idaho

PPGWNA has endorsed Erin Georgen’s campaign for District 81 school board because of her strong support for a comprehensive and inclusive Sex Ed curriculum and her commitment to ensuring it also includes support resources for students who may have already experienced sexual assault.

Give examples of how you have engaged with communities of color in the past, particularly Spokane’s African American Community.

Over the last several years, I’ve been actively supporting candidates of color running for local offices because I believe that more diverse representation in elected leaders creates the strongest foundation for creating meaningful change for people of color. I’ve taken many steps to learn how to be a better ally to communities of color and to better understand the depth of challenges they face. With every step only realizing more fully just how much I don’t truly understand. I’m committed to taking the time to really listen when the only members of my community who do truly understand are sharing their experiences and insight with me.

What do you see as the top challenges currently facing Spokane Public Schools and what qualifies you to address those challenges?

The budget is one of the most pressing challenges facing the district as it affects everything else. As a single parent, I know what it means to work with what constantly feels like an impossible budget. As a small business owner, I’m known for working to help clients find cost-effective solutions to meet their communications needs on small budgets. I understand the importance of prioritizing, considering options, and searching for the most cost-effective solutions. I have experience working with a leading economist on a statewide healthcare spending research report for Washington. That lead to developing and advocating for state-level healthcare legislation. My experience collaborating with state legislators in drafting legislation helped me develop the skills to work with legislators on state-level funding solutions for the district.

Given the district’s current financial situation, is there anything you would have done differently, had you been on the board since the summer of 2018?

Many of these issues were discussed in closed-door meetings and I don’t have enough information to confidently say I would have done specific things differently. I can confidently say that I’m an experienced problem solver and I enjoy getting into the details of policy in an effort to research and find practical solutions.

As a Board Member of Whole Washington, I helped Dr. Gerald Freidman collect data on healthcare spending in Washington, provided resources on related state healthcare and tax laws, and proposed multiple funding solutions for board and committee consideration. Last year, I had the pleasure of assisting Senator Marylin Chase on SB 5222 and I worked effectively with representatives from the Department of Revenue and the Employment Security Department to find policy solutions and funding mechanisms.

I’d like to think that the skills and experience I have could have helped the district mitigate the many fiscal challenges it faced over the last year. However, I also recognize that the current board members are dedicated and I believe they tried very hard to make the best decisions they could given the budget constraints.

Why did you decide to run for the SPS Board of Directors?

I am running for the SPS Board because I want to serve my community and use my skills and experience to make our community a better place. The public school system has a dramatic impact on working families and is often a key resource for struggling families to have the opportunity to succeed. The more disadvantaged a family is financially or educationally, the more they depend on the school system for help. Still, this voice is often missing from the school board. I believe I can be a voice for these families.

Three of the five board seats will be filled by brand new board members by December 1, 2019, or sooner. What problems, if any, would this create for the district? If elected, how will you handle any issues created by the instant turnover?

With any turnover there is potential for delays as New board members become oriented and when the majority of the members are new it could delay important votes. One of my best skills is that I am extremely flexible and adapt quickly. I’ve already begun learning as much as I can to prepare and will lean on the two School Board members with the most experience and the Board’s supporting staff for guidance on the administrative nuances.


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