PENDLETON — On the day ballots started going out to Umatilla County voters, Position 7 candidate Briana Spencer committed to serving on the Pendleton School Board if elected.

A member-elect for the Nixyaawii School Board, state law prohibits Spencer from serving on a charter school board and a district school board simultaneously.

According to a Wednesday, April 28, press release from her campaign, Spencer, an enrolled member of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, made her decision after consulting with tribal leaders and elders. If elected, Spencer said she would “step away” from the Nixyaawii board.

“With this unanimous support, I will serve on the Pendleton School (Board) if elected,” she said in a statement. “I am honored to have the support and trust of community members, tribal leaders, and the Nixyaawii Community School Board to be a voice for our community.”

The press release also included statements from General Council Chair Lindsey Watchman and Board of Trustees Treasurer Sandra Sampson, two tribal officials who have endorsed her campaign.

“With the number of Tribal members in the district, Briana will be more effective serving on the Pendleton Board, to look out for our youth within that structure,” Sampson said.

Spencer is running against attorney Patrick Gregg to replace Debbie McBee on the Pendleton School Board, and she hadn’t previously committed to serving on one board or the other should she win both seats.

Before filing for the seat, Spencer had asked McBee, the Pendleton board chair, if she could serve on both boards. McBee didn’t discourage her, but promised to research the issue.

McBee wouldn’t be able to deliver a definitive answer until she eventually met with the district’s legal counsel, who identified the law. By that time, Spencer had already won her seat with Nixyaawii and the dropout deadline for the Pendleton seat had already passed.

Election Day is May 18.

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