PENDLETON — Change is coming to the Pendleton School Board.
Two new board members — Julie Muller and Mason Murphy — will be sworn in in July to pass and formulate policy and help manage finances for the Pendleton School District.
Murphy was elected unopposed in May and will replace longtime board member Dave Krumbein, who declined to run for another term.
Although without children of his own, Murphy said he began getting involved with the district over career technical education projects.
A scientist with the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, Murphy said far too many children get funneled into colleges and get saddled with student debt when schools could develop the technical and artisanal skills that could help them find work.
His involvement with CTE led to a spot on the district’s strategic plan committee and then a seat on its public relations and marketing committee.
Murphy applied for appointment to the school board when Bob Rosselle resigned in 2016, but the board selected Wildhorse Resort and Casino CEO Gary George instead.
Now that he’s been elected to a seat on the school board, Murphy said his plan was to stay quiet for the first year while he learns policy.
But he also said that he’s liked what he’s seen out of the district’s CTE efforts, like the Schools to Careers program and the Pendleton Technology and Trade Center.
“It gives me the idea that if Pendleton’s not on the cutting edge, then they’re at least at the forefront,” he said.
Murphy did run into legal trouble in 2015 when he was charged with first-degree theft after repurposing doors from the old St. Anthony Hospital at his bar, 40 Taps.
He called the incident a “doozy,” and said it was a case of purchasing the doors from someone who wasn’t authorized to sell them.
The case was dismissed after he agreed to a civil compromise.
Both Murphy, 29, and Muller, 33, were born and raised in Pendleton and went through its school system.
But Muller took a slightly more unconventional path to the board, winning a write-in election after no one filed for Michelle Monkman’s seat when she declined to run for re-election.
Muller’s low-key write-in campaign worked, garnering her 187 votes, the most out of any write-in candidate in Umatilla County.
Pendleton attorney Michael Breiling came in a distant second with 12 votes. The rest were split among dozens of names.
Some were prominent Pendleton residents like Pendleton Mayor John Turner, Umatilla County District Attorney Dan Primus, and business owner Andy McAnally, while other write-ins were less auspicious, like “Spider Man,” “Skippy the Turtle,” and “Johnny Badass.”
Reached for comment on Thursday, Muller said this was the first time she had been contacted about the write-in results.
She said she still had a decision to make when the Umatilla County Elections Division will ask her if she wants to accept the seat, but intends to do it.
If Muller declines election to the seat, the board will get a chance to appoint someone to it.
A stay-at-home mom and a part-time photographer, Muller was happy to get started on the board.
“I’m excited to dive in and learn more about how the school system runs,” she said.