Derrick Peterson Withdraws From Portland Public Schools Board Race

The decision follows reporting on Peterson’s connections to a far-right religious movement.

Derrick Peterson (Jordan Hundelt)

Derrick Peterson, a former Multnomah County chief corrections deputy, has withdrawn from the race for an open seat on the Portland Public Schools board. Peterson was widely considered a favorite in the contest, receiving endorsements from both WW and The Oregonian, until coming under national scrutiny after The Oregonian and Rolling Stone examined his connections to a church associated with the Christian Nationalism movement.

As early as this morning, Peterson was distributing a statement to news outlets denying his affiliation to the movement. “I have also been an active advocate for LGBTQ+ rights. I also believe in separation of church and state,” he wrote in a letter to his supporters.

But this afternoon, he changed his mind. In a statement to WW, he wrote: “Over the past week my affiliations with various churches have been presented in the media. This has taken a toll on my family and takes away from the critical work that needs to be done at PPS. I respect our youth too much to allow this distraction to continue.”

Ballots have already been distributed. In the event Peterson wins the election, he has promised to resign, the statement says. His opponent is Patte Sullivan, a retired schoolteacher.

Peterson rose through the ranks of the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office before retiring as chief corrections deputy after a 35-year career. He ran for sheriff last year and lost.

Meanwhile, he was also rising in the ranks of the Harvest International Ministry, eventually becoming an “apostle,” he told Rolling Stone. He was also appointed to the board of the church’s anti-abortion activist arm, according to an archived version of its website. The megachurch was founded by Ché Ahn, a leading Christian Nationalist, who has claimed that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from Donald Trump through “egregious fraud,” Rolling Stone reported.

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