Election 2023: LBCC Board of Directors

Kristin Adams, 53

Years in Linn County: 43

Education: Bachelor of science degree from Oregon State University, Health Care Administration.

Professional Background/Work Experience: 10 years in public relations/administration for an environmental consulting firm; 20 years in education as a grant writer, post-secondary advisor, project coordinator.

Political Experience/Affiliations: Linn Benton Community College Board of Directors for five years, currently as chair.

Other Community Involvement/Affiliations (outside of activities/experience already listed): Board of Directors for Sweet Home Emergency Ministries; Board of Directors for Oregon Community College Association; Board of Directors for Willamette-Valley CTE-STEM Hub.

Family: My husband Michael and I have been married for 31 years. We both were raised in Sweet Home and after a 10-year hiatus, we found ourselves back home. Michael worked for the cities of Sweet Home and Toledo as a public works director for 20 years. He is currently a project manager with Gerding Buildings in Corvallis. We have four grown children and two beautiful daughters-in-law. Our oldest son Bret is an LBCC graduate and currently works as a police officer with the City of Albany. His wife Nicolette, will be graduating this May with a post-graduate degree in school psychology. She was recently hired as a school psychologist for Junction City School District. Our two middle boys, Jarid and Ryan, are both history teachers at Sweet Home High School. Jarid has a dual degree from Oregon State University in history and education, while Ryan has a degree from Western Oregon University in education. He also has a master’s degree in coaching and sports administration from Concordia University, Irvine, and is currently completing a second master’s degree in educational leadership. Ryan’s wife Laurel, is finishing up her undergraduate degree in teaching and is currently teaching second grade on an emergency licensure. Our daughter Kenzi is also an LBCC graduate and she works as a supervisor at the Salem Costco.


Stephen Irwin, 46

Years in Linn County: “Longtime resident.”

Education: Criminal justice degree.

Professional Background/Work Experience: Detective, Sheriff’s deputy, U.S. Marshal, Fraud investigator.

Political Experience/Affiliations: This is a non-partisan election.

Other Community Involvement/Affiliations (outside of activities/experience already listed): I am a retired detective and investigator. The nice thing about being retired is that I can arrange my time as needed to do research and develop policy and agenda items needed to be an excellent steward of the taxpayers’ dollars and LBCC resources. Law enforcement is all about community involvement, so being involved and informed politically within the community and county is something I do on an ongoing basis.

Family: My wife is a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and we are owners/partners in a counseling service. We have two children.

Contact: [email protected]


Why do you want to be an LBCC Board member?

Kristin Adams: I want rural voices to be heard, both students and families. The counties that LBCC serves can be quite divisive at times with personal thoughts, agendas, politics and belief systems.

I want to make sure that our college is hearing all voices and that we maintain our motto of Education for All. My No. 1 priority on the board is to ensure that our college has systems in place for student success, no matter what your background is.

Transitioning to college, whether right after high school or as an adult learner, can be quite overwhelming. Making sure that we have people to help guide, direct, facilitate, encourage and support all students towards graduation or transferring to a higher institution is very important to me.

Stephen Irwin: I think the LBCC Board of Directors putting a $25 million tax burden on Linn County property owners was really bad timing and a poor decision. Remember, this came last year, right at the end of COVID lockdowns, hyperinflation, with gas prices over $5.00 gallon.

They didn’t seem to care that people were struggling – it just seemed really tone-deaf. In my opinion, the entire board of directors did not appear to reflect Linn County’s working class, blue-collar values. The board needs more balance and input from a conservative Linn County fiscally responsible point of view which, I think, has been lacking on LBCC Board of Directors for some time.

I’m running to bring this new perspective, new point-of-view and a blue-collar, skilled-labor voice to the LBCC Board of Directors.


What sets you apart as a candidate for LBCC voters?

Stephen Irwin: As a former detective and fraud investigator, I know how to parse documents, conversations and people to assess what really might be going on below the surface.

As mentioned, I also have all the time I need to get to the bottom of potential issues and policies that may well need further exposure or adjudication. The second part of highlighting issues or potential issues is transparency and honesty required to bring issues to the public’s attention and provide sound opinions and a perspective on issues that affect taxpayers and the general public.

Kristin Adams: I’ve worked in K-12 education for over 20 years, with 17 years of post-secondary advising. I have written several federal and state grants for educational systems, allowing further experience in public financing, advocacy and assessment.

I’ve been a part of the Pipeline (now CTE-STEM Hub) efforts from the beginning, working with industries to get students exposed to the careers in our communities and the necessary education needed for those careers. My current board position on the Oregon Community College Association allows me insights to all community colleges across the state.


What would you consider your primary responsibility/ies to voters as an LBCC Board member if you are elected?

Kristin Adams: No. 1 would be to ensure that the college remains open. The state government has slowly chipped away at their commitment to higher education funding, leaving colleges across the state to either divest in certain programs or place the burden of higher tuition on students.

LBCC is no different. We must make sure that our programs are responsive to industry needs and that we are educating students in degree areas that benefit those industries.

Stephen Irwin: I believe many Linn County young adults want readily available, affordable training in blue-collar and skilled-labor trades. These trades are almost recession-proof, pro-union and provide sustainable lifelong income, security and an excellent quality of life for our young adults and families.

The next generation of Linn County young adults must be provided the means to achieve the American dream of home and land ownership and this starts with a skill-based high-paying career. LBCC must play a primary role in that. This doesn’t require more taxes or more buildings; it requires reallocation of finances and a real vision for the future.

My primary responsibility will be to reshape LBCC into Oregon’s premier center of excellence for blue-collar and skill-trade education and training.


What do you think are the particular challenges that need to be addressed by the LBCC Board over the next couple of years?

Stephen Irwin: The last LBCC Board of Directors’ meeting really highlighted challenges with ideological perspectives that need to be addressed. Remember, the meeting agenda is established by the LBCC Board chair, coordinating with LBCC administrators.

The discussion centered around cutting much of the library staff and coursework such as computer science and others. What was particularly disturbing to many, was that money saved by cutting those positions and programs – putting people out of work – was so it could be reallocated to give LBCC administrators pay raises!

Reshaping and removing these ideological-driven tax-and-spend policies and preventing misuse of taxpayer dollars to self-reward those in power is a particular challenge that needs to be addressed not only at LBCC, but across the country.

Kristin Adams: Enrollment, state funding and out-of-the-box thinking. As long as the state continues to decrease its commitment to higher education funding, LBCC will need to reassess what it offers, becoming a smaller institution that specializes in degree areas that meet the needs of our local industries.

In doing so, we still need to ensure that we have enough offerings to encourage four-year degree seekers to start at our college before taking on huge debt at their four-year institutions.


A lot of LBCC Board work revolves around funding. In general, how do you view the college’s position in this area, particularly given activity in the Oregon Legislature? If you would like to change anything, how would you do so?

Kristin Adams: Our president is an amazing advocate for higher education funding in the Oregon Legislature. Her involvement and advocacy at the capital is strong. If I could change anything in the Oregon Legislature, it would be a stronger commitment to higher education and student needs while being educated.

Education is the ticket out of poverty, but if the cost of education is unattainable, we are only adding to the problem of the state’s poverty and homelessness rates.

Stephen Irwin: I think the LBCC Board of Directors putting a $25 million tax burden on Linn County property owners was really bad timing and a poor decision. Linn County voted the tax bond down but Benton County had the votes to carry the tax.

What will taxpayers get for $25 million of their tax dollars? According to the LBCC website: They want to build a new building, they want to develop courses in crop science, animal husbandry and a veterinary technician course. A new building is not needed and veterinary technicians and farm labor are not high-paying jobs.

Why would LBCC directors do this when Oregon State University, a premier agricultural, animal science and veterinary school is just eight miles away? Why duplicate these programs instead of just developing cooperative agreements using OSU’s faculty and facilities? This would have been a win-win and saved tens of millions.

They also want to build a daycare center at LBCC for student and faculty and plush-up business offices in Corvallis. As mentioned above, LBCC needs to reprogram wasteful spending and redirect funding to develop a faculty and coursework to train and empower a high-quality next generation skilled-labor and blue-collar work force that will be badly needed.


What other improvements would you like to see to the college’s operations/personnel/ services?

Stephen Irwin: LBCC could easily become the state’s training center for high-paying blue-collar, skilled craftsmen, contractor and technical trades.

This would not require new taxes or new buildings just a renewed vision and commitment to Linn and Benton Counties’ future and long-range plans to shift towards this direction.

Kristin Adams: I think it’s important for everyone to know that the LBCC Board is a policy-making board. We do not get into the weeds of operations/personnel/services. That’s the job of our president.

That being said, our president and her staff have worked extremely hard at making the institution welcoming to all students and addressing the needs of the communities in which it serves. No organization is perfect, but I believe LBCC is pretty top-notch.


In addition to any of the issues already touched on, what do you consider the biggest challenge(s) facing LBCC? As briefly as possible, how would you address it/those?

Kristin Adams: As mentioned above, enrollment and state funding. The college did a phenomenal job during the pandemic with the implementation of online learning. Our professors were amazing.

I would say that this is one positive that came out of the pandemic because it was very rare to see any community college offer online courses. Now that we are back to in-person learning, we are retaining online courses and we’ve seen our enrollment increase. It is another opportunity for us to lean into the motto of All means All, assisting non-traditional college going students who are trying to maintain jobs and raise families.

As long as the governor’s priorities are away from higher ed, we need to dig deep into our toolbox and think of ways to ensure our college can remain affordable. The LBCC Foundation has done great work in raising awareness of student needs. We have a big challenge ahead of us in this area and I look forward to helping in any way I can.

Stephen Irwin: I think my agenda, as outlined above, and the issues and concerns have been briefly addressed above. I will need to get into the position and really do a deep dive into many issues to fully uncover the many challenges ahead. I look forward to being part of a new vision and new direction that many feel is badly needed at LBCC.

I thank you for your thoughtful consideration and your vote.