With three positions on the Mt. Hood District board up for grabs this year, controversial member George “Sonny” Yellott will be up for re-election. This time around, he will have competition for the job.
Annette Mattson, who is retiring from her position as Government Affairs and Public Policy Specialist at Portland General Electric, plans to take six months off from any paid employment during her run for the Zone 4 seat on the MHCC board.
The two face off on the May 16 special election ballot.
Mattson’s campaign focus regarding the college is what she calls “the three Rs:” restoration, resources, and respect.
Regarding respect, Mattson said the relationship between MHCC and her district (Zone 4 extends from Gresham into East Portland, west to about Interstate 205 and north to I-84) is strained, in part by Yellott’s derogatory comments regarding undocumented students. “I believe a lot of damage has been done in the last few years,” she said. “East Portland and Zone 4 are extremely diverse, and I think respecting that diversity, our immigrant population, and others within that is important.”
To bring resources to the college, Mattson said passing a new bond measure is part of a solution. As a member of the board for the David Douglas school district and as a volunteer, Mattson worked on four such bond measures, three of which passed.
“In the very (service) area where the bond measures fail for Mt. Hood Community College, they pass for David Douglas,” she said. “Obviously people there see the value, even though our (David Douglas) poverty rates are higher in that area, of putting out their tax dollars to invest in education.
“There’s a disconnect between the college and the folks in my communities, so I hope this bond measure passes, but if it doesn’t, I am going to use the skills I have from working on campaigns” to raise money for the college, she said.
Mattson was involved with raising $3.5 million for Earl Boyle Elementary School’s early learning center. She also helped raise over $2 million for the Zenger Farm urban grange building, she said.
When Mattson first started working for PGE, she had to take a typing class at Mt. Hood to get hired permanently. She was a nursing mother at the time, and had to take one class per term.
“It took me 10 years before I finally got my bachelor’s degree, and it was well worth it,” she said. “But I think that really shows women are a valuable part of our workforce and when a woman, or any parent, any student wants to come to school here at Mt. Hood to further their education, to provide for their family, and be able to make a living, we should provide the resources we can in order to support them and make that possible, (to) at least, remove obstacles.”
Regarding focus on trying to improve graduation rates at a community college, Mattson said the standards for measuring success should be different than those at university levels. “It would be good to (have) more associates degree (graduates), but I think our success needs to be registered differently than it is at a four-year institution because it is a lot more certification, workforce development, helping people get into those career technical (industries)” at a two-year school, she said.
Even though Mattson didn’t graduate with a degree from MHCC, she considers herself an alumnus of the college.
Leaving behind a 34-year career with PGE, Mattson said she looks forward to trying to win the board seat, while she also plans to go back to work in a place that aligns with her personal values of servant leadership and complements her activity as a civic leader.
“One of the reasons I so love living in East Portland – and I was at the stand-with-immigrants-and-refugees-event last Friday night – is the richness that a community has when you have people with so many different backgrounds and so many different lenses, and I really value that,” she said.