Hi, West Linn and Wilsonville neighbors! My name is Seiji Shiratori. Shiratori is pronounced phonetically. Seiji is pronounced Say-gee. But, a lot of people call me Sage. Born and raised in rural southeastern Idaho, I’ve spent my entire life explaining that despite the Japanese origins of my name and half of my DNA, I am American.
My wife, Alisa, and I often talk about how fortunate we are that families like ours have a place like America to take sanctuary from an increasingly threatening world. We recall that her ancestors in places like Hungary, Ukraine, Lithuania, and Russia were never considered Hungarians, Ukrainians, Lithuanians, or Russians. They were just Jews. We believe things like, “. . .America values and welcomes people of all faiths – Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, and many others. . . . Every immigrant can be fully and equally American because we’re one country. Race and color should not divide us, because America is one country.” Who spewed that progressive line? Why, it was George W. Bush. I guess that’s the kind of starry-eyed liberal I am.
Alisa and I have two sons, one is a senior at Wilsonville High School and will go off to college in a few months. Our youngest son will start Wilsonville High School this fall. That’s one reason I’m running for school board. I want my son and all children in our district to have a high school experience that prepares them academically, socially, and physically for higher education or vocational training, a career, and an active civic life.
Our family first moved to Wilsonville in 1994, shortly after graduating college. We were away for a couple of decades, serving our country, as I worked for the U.S. Department of State, living in places like Pakistan, Portugal, Senegal, Timor-Leste, Bulgaria, Iraq, and Bahrain. As such, our sons have attended schools in many of those places as well as in Florida and Virginia.
We’ve seen a lot of school districts, and our West Linn-Wilsonville district is a good one. It’s one of the reasons Alisa and I returned home here. I want our district to stay strong and rooted in academic excellence, for my kids and for our community. That’s another reason I’m running. I know that strong schools have a direct and positive impact on strong communities, the kind of vibrant communities that attract employment and that maintain quality infrastructure and services. This strength allows our citizens of all ages to know that West Linn and Wilsonville will continue to be great places to live.
Neighbors, we have many reasons to be thankful and reasons to work toward improvement. Let’s do it together! As we struggle with the challenges of bringing our kids back to school safely, let’s learn from the COVID-19 crisis together. I know we have many varied opinions about how to do it and what to learn from it. I’ll listen to all your views and make decisions based on common sense derived from our shared conversation, and science. Even if we’re sure we’re right, it doesn’t mean the conversation is over. I can’t promise you we will always agree. I can promise you I will always listen and consider your views thoughtfully.
If you are interested in learning more about my professional and educational background, please check out my LinkedIn profile.
Seiji T. Shiratori is running for Director, Position 5, West Linn-Wilsonville School Board.