Derrick Peterson Sends Conflicting Signals About Whether He’s Still Running for School Board

He texted a current school board member that he’ll serve if elected.

After withdrawing from a race for the Portland Public Schools board over questions about his involvement in a church with Christian nationalist ties, longtime corrections deputy Derrick Peterson tells a current board member that he’s putting his hat back in the race.

“If I get voted in, I will remain on the board,” Peterson wrote to a current PPS board member on Friday evening, according to texts shared with WW.

And his campaign website on Sunday made no mention of his withdrawal. On Wednesday, he had replaced the website’s home page with his withdrawal statement. Now, it’s gone—and his original campaign website has returned.

Peterson did not respond to questions from WW.

Technically, Peterson never left the race—his name is printed on ballots that were sent out to Portlanders last week. But he pledged last week that if he was elected, he would resign immediately. He said the media attention has “taken a toll on my family and takes away from the critical work that needs to be done at PPS.”

His campaign managers, Jessica Elkan and Bob Dobrich, resigned from his campaign last week. Elkan declined to comment, but their resignation letter was shared with WW by a source.

“Associations and affiliations that you have and did not disclose to the campaign are not in alignment with the mission or values of our firm,” wrote the campaign firm in a May 3 letter.

Last Monday, Rolling Stone wrote that Peterson had climbed the internal ranks of a church called the Harvest International Ministry, eventually becoming an “apostle,” he told the magazine. He was also appointed to the board of the church’s anti-abortion activist arm, according to an old 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 fraud.

Until recently, Peterson was chief corrections deputy with the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office. Last year, he ran unsuccessfully for Multnomah County sheriff.

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