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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Opponents of CDC recommendations on masking mandates advance in Central Valley School Board race

The candidates for Central Valley School Board District 5 are Pam Orebaugh, Jared VonTobel and Rob Linebarger. (handout)
By Sophia McFarland The Spokesman-Review

Voters in Tuesday’s primary election for the Central Valley School Board gave Pam Orebaugh a clear victory and Rob Linebarger a likely lead for a spot on the November ballot.

The two were the most conservative of the three candidates on the ballot. Both oppose any recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for any pandemic-related masking or vaccine mandates in k-12 schools .

Orebaugh said she opposes mask mandates on any student or district employee, especially if it involves younger children.

“I’m against shoving it down my throat without a choice,” Orebaugh said. “I don’t think anything should be mandated. This is America.”

Linebarger has called COVID-19 “a big phony hoax.”

Orebaugh said that she was “very pleased” with election results and Linebarger praised Orebaugh saying, “Pam is a great candidate and person and I look forward to working with her and making things better for the district.” 

The most moderate candidate, Jared Von Tobel, appears likely to be eliminated in the primary with a third-place finish. Von Tobel said his reaction to the results was one of “surprise and disappointment.”

Votes for Orebaugh accounted for 38.4% of ballots, while Linebarger polled 31.9%. Von Tobel has 28.7% of votes.

Linebarger served as a Naval Aviator for 23 years and currently works as the director of global customer quality data services at Cisco. He said the pandemic is a government-curated hoax and said Central Valley presents critical race theory in its curriculum.

Orebaugh is the lead faculty nurse educator for obstetric nursing at the Washington State University College of Nursing. She said that parent involvement in the board’s decisions is essential for schools to function well. She added the district needs to stray away from social justice issues and back to education.

Von Tobel has worked as a fire protection contractor for 25 years. He said his main goal is to raise science test scores and increase high-school extracurricular involvement.

Editor’s note: This article was changed on Aug. 4, 2021 to clarify Orebaugh’s and Linebarger’s position on CDC recommendations.