Change Address

VOTE411 Voter Guide

Portland School Board District 4

Click a candidate icon to find more information about the candidate. To compare two candidates, click the "compare" button. To start over, click a candidate icon.

  • Candidate picture

    Aura Russell-Bedder

  • Candidate picture

    Christopher Vail

Biographical Information

What are your top priorities for 2021?

What else would you like voters to know about you?

Campaign Phone (207) 370-8869
Campaign Email arussellbedder@gmail.com
We must shrink the opportunity gap that still plagues our community, particularly our BIPOC and impoverished students. Anti-racism work must be at the core of all that we do in working to ensure a high quality education for all Portland students. I will work to improve communication and opportunities for engagement with families, particularly with our most marginalized community members. I will support the expansion of the Pre-K program so that all four year olds in Portland can have access. I support the de-colonizing of our curriculum, including fully implementing a Wabanaki studies program. I want to prioritize increasing hiring of BIPOC staff, and eliminate barriers that make it difficult for people from immigrant communities to work in our schools. Also critically important is working closely with the City Council to prioritize school funding, particularly during this COVID epidemic, in addition to collaborating with our state delegation regarding the state funding formula.
I am a proud parent of two students at Presumpscot Elementary School and a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with 15 years of experience working with children and families in southern Maine. My family has gained so much by being part of a diverse school community, and I have witnessed firsthand both the incredible strengths of our school system AND the inequities we must eliminate. I will always prioritize listening to and elevating the voices of those most vulnerable in our community.

I was a lead organizer with the Four School Bond campaign in 2016/2017. We passed a $64 million bond to renovate four of our rundown elementary schools. Three of those schools are in District 4 and I sit on the Presumpscot Building Committee. These renovations are moving forward and it is critical that we continue this work to ensure equity in our buildings across the district.

I also co-founded a grassroots organization, Equity in Portland Schools, which works to address inequities in our schools.
Campaign Phone (207) 807-3507
Campaign Email cvail2@maine.rr.com
Transparency and inclusion - The majority of students in the Portland school system are from middle class and blue collar families. We cannot expect busy people to be running from work/family time to board meetings, council meetings, PTO events all hours and days of the week. The school board needs to be a part of the conversation where it matters most - in the homes, around the dinner table and times when family can congregate and discuss school, district and city topics. We need our priority to remain the topics of the day in our city and not get caught up in national debates. Our responsibility is to our children here in Portland and the development of inspired, confident, educated, safe, healthy and mindful young adults. We need to offer the support from all of our district voices to assure we are raising decent human beings. Our school board, to great accolades, has developed a Mission Statement and Code of Ethics that defines our goal. That should be our focus.
My son is ten years old and I would like to be a voice that participates in the shaping of his education. I am not a politician. I will, most likely, not be endorsed by anyone. I don't owe anyone favors or have political agendas. My campaign efforts will be of my own undertaking and that of a small group of volunteers/friends donating time to spread my core blessing of common sense and conversation. I do not believe the basis of any governmental position to be beyond any one citizen's ability. If you are capable of quality communication skills, listening and approaching a conversation with an open mind to a common goal - you can make a difference. I will look to be inclusionary to the District 4 community and create improved levels of communication and sharing of information to make sure all are aware and educated to school board topics. We can do better to the cause of educating our public and brining the word to the streets. I appreciate the consideration and support. Thank you.