Jump to an Election
Meet the Candidates
If, as the late Speaker of the House Tip O’ Neill said, “all politics is local,” then the 2011 elections taking place in Monterey County are the ultimate representation of that axiom: elementary and school district board races, community college district races, a local fire district race, a hospital district race, a pair of Pacific Grove measures and the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District. In all, 22 races are represented, with more than 60 candidates vying for the privilege (and some might say headache) of making decisions that will impact the county’s children, the workforce and its potential for smart growth or no growth at all in the coming years.
With such a wide breadth of geography for these local elections, the Weekly set out to ask all candidates a set of simple questions: Who are you? What is your primary issue? What are you planning on doing about it? Why should people vote for you and not your opponent(s)? And how are you going to get anything done in an era of budgets so tight they squeak?
Candidates were sent the questionnaire on Oct. 14 and given until the end of the day Oct. 18 to respond. For the candidates, it should have been a no-brainer way of getting their names and platforms in front of more voters. For us, it’s a no-brainer way of giving you, the readers, more information about those who would help lead.
Answers from the 30 candidates who responded are below. In next week’s paper, readers also can find the Weekly’s editorial board endorsements for a selection of races. Please educate yourselves and get out to vote.
Mary Duan, editor.
Annette Yee Steck
I am a financial advisor working in public finance—my clients include school districts and municipalities throughout the State of California. I have worked in California public finance for 27 years.
I am running for re-election to the Carmel Unified School District Board of Trustees.
The primary threat to CUSD is the potential elimination of the Basic Aid method of funding school districts. Unlike most districts in California, we are funded almost exclusively through local property taxes. The loss of the Basic Aid method of funding would cut our district revenues in half. Each year legislation is introduced to eliminate Basic Aid statewide. Because of California's ongoing budget crisis, the pressure to take money from CUSD to pay for other districts has become even greater. So far, we have been successful in keeping our method of funding intact but we need to be especially vigilant now.
A second related issue is how to fund an increasing student population with shrinking or flat property tax revenues. Families are moving to our District because of the strength of our educational system. We can't prevent that from occurring, but making sure we spend our money wisely becomes even more important as we educate more students with fewer dollars.
I will continue to work with the District and the other Basic Aid Districts to prevent legislation designed to eliminate our method of funding from going forward. And I will continue to make certain that we spend our dollars wisely, so that our students continue to receive the best education we can provide.
I have been a member of the CUSD Board for 18 years now. During my tenure, test scores have improved consistently and significantly, the percentage of our graduates meeting UC/CSU entrance requirements has increased dramatically, and our graduates are being admitted to top colleges at increasingly high rates. I have years of experience dealing with the financial issues that CUSD now faces, and have a proven track record of fostering excellence at our schools.
It does not cost much to ensure that our legislators know the facts about Basic Aid and that they support our goals. It does take time to educate them. And it takes diligence to keep the District focused on quality and effectiveness. On my watch, we have been successful so far; I will do my best to ensure that we continue to be successful in the future.
One big issue is the potential reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act. If this Act, which is currently being considered by Congress, is reauthorized and California does not seek a waiver, our district could potentially lose funding due to the scores of the Special Education students and the English Language Learners not increasing over the past two years.
We need to look at ways of increasing the learning of these two demographics and making the general education curriculum more accessible to them. This will not only stop the possible loss of funding, but will enable these students to eventually be ready to proceed with their post high school goals.
Having an understanding of the special education system, gives me a unique perspective of the education system and knowledge of how to work with the resources available to make progress and solve problems. I am a parent representative for Carmel Unified School District on Monterey County's Special Education Local Planning Area Community Action Committee and have served in that capacity for 3 years. I have served on the board of directors of Special Kids Crusade, a local 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, for 3 years which has given me experience handling budgets and collaborating with board members, as well as being attentive to public feedback of programs. I have attended the Institute of Special Education Advocacy at the College of William and Mary and other various education seminars on best practices used in public schools to assist children in receiving meaningful educational benefit and making progress in the classroom. I will also bring over 20 years of working in the legal industry to the board; I have experience in construction defect law, workers' compensation law, civil litigation, real estate law, elder law and special education law.
By looking at each student's level and ability individually and addressing their weaknesses and strengths as needed.
Retired financial executive, Carmel Unified School District board member
Maintaining and building on the educational excellence attained by the Carmel School District in recent years.
Insist, as a Board Member, that the District remain focused on academic excellence.
Support the District in hiring and retaining the best educators we can find.
Hire appropriately to maintain optimum class sizes.
Push for growth and improvement in our arts and elective programs.
My experience, my professional background, and my dedication to Carmel Schools.
My experience: Since my sons Nicholas and Aaron began attending District schools in 2001 I have been an active participant and volunteer in the Carmel Schools, serving on the executive boards of the Carmel Middle School PTO, the Carmel River School PTA, the FOCUS Foundation Board, The Carmel High School Foundation Board, the River School and High School Site Councils, and several District academic working committees. I have been an active fundraiser and event promoter; have served as a volunteer math tutor in classrooms at River School and the High School; and taught after-school enrichment classes (rockets!).(From candidate statement)
My professional background: My first career was with the U.S. State Department as a Foreign Service Officer and economist with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in Costa Rica and Washington D.C. For the past 35 years I've been in the private sector in business and finance. I recently retired from Morgan Stanley Smith Barney after 14 years as a financial advisor and Certified Financial Planner. My entire professional career has involved management, finance, planning, and analysis, in small and large companies, public and private. I know what it takes to successfully set organizational goals and implement programs to achieve them. I am an excellent budget analyst and auditor, skills that will serve us well on the Carmel School Board. With my recent retirement I can devote sufficient time to the responsibilities of a School Board member. I'm a numbers guy and a policy wonk.
My dedication: I love our Carmel schools. All of them - from Carmelo and Captain Cooper to the High School - are exceptional places for our children to get an exemplary, well-rounded education. I've worked hard to help achieve this and I want to continue contributing to it as a member of our school board.
As the victims of our own success, we are facing steadily rising enrollments and static revenues. Fortunately we have had sufficient financial resources up to this point to not be squeezed as much as most school districts. To maintain the excellence we have achieved and to continue expanding our course offerings it is imperative that we use our resources wisely and budget carefully. My professional experience in budgeting and budget analysis will serve us well.
Rita A. Patel
Small Business Owner, Carmel Middle School PTO President and
Carmel Unified School District Board of Education Board Member
There are many projects I would like to work on and I have many ideas on how to implement them, however, one of my primary issues is to support ALL students’ interests and training for post high-school career choices. We do a fantastic job in supporting students who will go on to a higher education. But, not all children are university bound. I would like to see trade related skills and presentations offered to the students in this district.
I would work to set up vocational opportunities for our older students who decide not to go to college. Carmel High School can offer “Vocational Day” just as we have College and Career Day. On one Vocational Day, local businesses, such as restaurants and hotels can come onto campus and make presentations. I want us to give these students a future, not just a diploma.
The main reason is I am well-respected in the community for the many hours I devote to the children of our schools. I am also able to bring people together to get issues resolved. With my strong interpersonal skills I can bring the school community together to get anything done. I have an extensive amount of years volunteering on the PTA/PTO boards in a leadership position and in touch with the school environment and the issues on our campuses. Currently, as Carmel Middle School PTO President I continue to work very closely with the children, parents and school to support Carmel Unified School District in various capacities. I am an approachable leader with excellent listening skills and patience. I am a hard worker, and a good problem solver with strong organizational and leadership skills. I am a person of integrity and experience devoted to nothing less than helping our school district and community succeed and prosper.
I would like to set up multiple “Vocational Days” at the high school during the lunch period. I think there will be minimal costs if any at all to bring in local businesses(construction, automotive, hotel, restaurant, the arts industry ….)to represent their organizations. I would like them to make presentations to our students, offer our students internships that could potentially lead to jobs or spark an interest for further studies at our local community college or university. Our job is to educate and help our children fulfill their goals. We are a small enough district, that if any of our students leave our high school not knowing what to do next, then we should consider that a failure.
Republican, Business Owner and Consultant
Ambulance Service response times is number 1, 2 and 3!
I also want:
To provide and maintain the Highest Level of Service for Fire Protection and Emergency Medical Response times, to our residents,
Ensure Fiscal Responsibility and Provide Professional, Innovative and Experienced Oversight,
And have a strong working relationship with the Firefighters, Reserve Firefighters, and administration.
Provide new blood with a fiscally responsible view on budgeting. I want to make sure we budget fairly and responsibly. Fully funding ambulance services and fire protection must be done first than we consider the remaining items in our budget. I now I can ensure fiscal responsibility and provide professional, innovative and experienced oversight.
I am the only candidate running for Cypress Fire Protection District endorsed by the Carmel Professional Firefighters and the Monterey Fire Fighters Association.
I am a Carmel High School graduate, Carmel property owner, and local businessman. I have lived and worked in this community for most of my 39 years.
I am seeking this position because it's time for new blood, a new perspective and balanced fiscal discipline approach to the Cypress Fire Protection District.
Most of my opponents are incumbent board members who were appointed not elected by the people.
I am sure all my opponents are well meaning individuals and I will not run a negative campaign against them. I just believe I can provide an insight that is lacking from the board today.
I will provide my business and government experience to help this organization end wasteful spending and ensure that all our tax dollars are used wisely.
My goal is to ensure our budget is balanced, that we have a 10% reserve and we fund our proirities. Nothing in this environment is easy but I believe making smart fiscally responsible choices that don't impact the vital services we provide is the right objective for any Board Member.
Investment Advisor (On-Point Capital, LLC)
Board, Cypress Fire Protection District
-Maintain the district's current strong fiscal position in order to protect and improve fire prevention and protection within the district.
-Continue to increase the effectiveness and cost efficiency of fire prevention and protection within the district.
-Maintain strong cash reserves in order to guarantee future service levels.
-Ensure that our district remains a strong and supportive partner to our neighboring districts.
-Work hard to understand potential changes in district revenues.
-Work hard to manage the district's expenses and investments in order to maximize service levels whilst also maintaining strong cash reserves.
-Work hard to provide strong fiscal- and operational governance of district operations.
-Work hard to understand changing conditions in neighboring districts in order to mitigate risks to our district and to identify opportunities to improve the services our residents receive.
-I have more than 20 years of financial management experience (I have managed many billions of dollars on behalf of private- and public entities).
-I am a local businessman, and not a politician or political operative.
-During my 3 years on the board, despite difficult economic conditions, we have significantly increased service levels within the district, built our cash reserves and expanded our partnerships with neighboring districts. These all directly benefit our district's residents.
-I represent hard work, integrity and respect in everything I do.
-Current economic uncertainty presents a challenge to all districts. We intend to continue to deliver the highest service levels in the region by anticipating revenue changes and carefully adjusting our expenses and investments in order to balance the dual goals of continually increasing service levels whilst also retaining prudent cash reserves in order to guarantee future service levels to our residents.
-I am proud that the incumbent board has achieved this balance under current economic conditions and I look forward to working with them in the future.
Edgar B. Dally
Retired physicist; Consultant; Special projects for family resort business Incumbent Board Member, Cypress Fire Protection District
No outstanding issues. Cypress Fire Protection District contracts with CAL-FIRE for services. We have a harmonious working relationship. The Cypress district has significant cash reserves to provide its services to the Cypress community, unlike many of the regional fire departments. We collaborate closely with Pebble Beach and Carmel Highlands districts, who also carry significant reserves and who also contract with CAL-FIRE.
Continue to maintain the conservative fiscal status of the Cypress District, continue to expand the fire prevention measures, keep abreast of and implement technical advances on fire engines, system tracking and control, ongoing training of fire staff, including paramedics. Maintain the four fire fighters per engine, two of which are paramedics.
Overall background and expertise with technical issues and business experience as manager and executive with world wide companies working in both US and foreign countries, as well as family business direction for the past 16 years.
Cypress Fire Protection District is financially strong, and faces no outstanding debt. On the contrary is has strong financial reserves due to the consistant , conservative and strong fiscal planning by the Cypress Board of Directors, working closely with its CAL-FIRE contractors
Hartnell Board of Trustees Area 2, works w/ Special Kids Crusade in Monterey County
I have consistently opposed excessive salaries for administrators Cut at the top, not at the bottom. Too many times we cut people making $39K/year Another thing I'd like to see is us hiring more counselors for the students Also would like to see more ESL classes We need to bring back our reading and writing labs We have students who go to MPC, don't go to Hartnell even though they live in Salinas b/c writing, reading labs went away What will you do about them? See above (he really didn't (couldn't?) provide a concrete answer) Incumbent: been there for last 8 years, won by 500 votes in '03. I grew up in North Salinas. Went to Hartnell College, graduated in '83. I have been supportive of students, faculty, classified staff. Consistent w/ questioning administration. Ask questions about really important issues.I don't just follow, I lead by what I've done. I don't believe Johnny Gray will lead, he'll follow. Look at where he's getting money from: all big-money interests, they give you money if you keep your mouth shut and do what you want them to do. Why should the rich people always get what they want?
Bilingual Parent Educator, Hartnell Community College Board of Trustees, District 4
My goal is to ensure that Salinas Valley students have a clear pathway to further education or have access to training programs that lead to good paying jobs. I have worked hard to make sure that anyone who seeks an education can have that opportunity. I will continue to fight for our students, our community, and for the quality of education that we honor at Hartnell with a common sense approach.
Since serving on the board, we have maintained accreditation, we have seen an increase in graduation rates and entrance to universities and colleges (just recently, we graduated the largest class in the history of Hartnell College). In my first term and during tough economic times, we have been able to expand programs to include the k-16 bridge program and the Academy for College Excellence (ACE). We have managed to continue to offer scholarship opportunities to students in need. Additionally, we opened another campus in East Salinas with a world class NASA lab to encourage students in the fields of math and science. I will continue the hard work that I have started.
As I mentioned previously, we have seen many successes in my first term, and I have the experience to continue to grow upon these accomplishments. What we need on the board of Hartnell right now is experience and stability in order to continue moving the college in the right direction, and I offer both. I am a longtime resident of Salinas, an experienced decision maker with a collaborative approach, and I have a deep understanding of structure and process. It will be my honor to continue serving on the Hartnell Board of Trustees.
We have been managing difficult budgets in tough economic times since I began on this board, and we will continue to do so with as little impact on the students as possible.
Johnny J. Gray, Jr.
Information Technology Manager.
Hartnell Board of Trustees, District 2.
Financial transparency and budgetary control, and ensuring opportunity for students.
With dramatic cuts to our California University systems, colleges like Hartnell play an even more vital role in our communities. Although Hartnell is facing difficult challenges, I believe that we must put the students first. We will continue to struggle with budget cuts, and we must find a way to maintain critical services and programs to ensure the success of our students. I believe that we can build an academic bridge; providing students a pathway to further their education and the confidence and tools to find meaningful jobs.
Trustees act as representatives of the community as well as liaisons between the college and those it serves. I believe it important that whenever possible the community understand the financial standing of the institution. This promotes accountability and sets a clear level of understanding as we are faced with economic challenges such as program and services cuts at the state and local level. As trustee I would ensure that information is shared in a variety of mediums.
• I have the skills, values, and experience that Hartnell needs right now. I have an innovative and collaborative approach in resolving challenges that has been proven in my work environment and has resulted in successful solutions. This same approach will be a benefit on the Hartnell Board, fostering team work, increasing productivity and generating new ideas
• My 22 years of work experience at HSBC has given me a great understanding of finance, budget, and policy issues.
• I am a Hartnell alumnus and a lifelong member of this community and for years, I have been passionately involved in local boards and organizations. I have a desire to give back and a proven record of making things better and getting things done. I have participated as Rotary International Foundation Group Study Exchange participant to India, worked as a volunteer for The Boys and Girls Clubs of Monterey County where I received the Distinguished Service Award in 2010 and The United Way, and served as a board member on The Monterey County Children’s Council as a Business Representative, The Community Alliance for Safety and Peace (CASP), Restorative Justice Partners of Monterey County where I served as Vice President, The Salinas Valley Half Marathon committee, State Vice President of Community Development for the California Jaycees as well as the Vice President of Community Development for the Salinas Jaycees. In 2010, I chaired the Salinas Jaycees Children's Shopping Tour, the largest fundraiser they hold annually.
• I am an Information Technology Manager, and am able to keep up with the rapid pace of change in technology, which I believe is critical to the college’s ability to deliver its mission.
• I have no agenda, other than to do the right thing to support the college and serve the community. I am an independent thinker and I will be an informed and productive member of this Board, when elected.
In addition, I realize that as a board member I have one vote. We must work together in the best interests of the students, the college, and the community. This will ensure that savings are realized and spending and oversight are effective. Managing the budget requires careful and strategic planning which is one of my core strengths.
Retired Community College Vice President/Assistant Superintendent of Student Services. Presently completing a 4-year term on the North Monterey County Unified School District Board.
Hartnell College Board of Trustees, Area 1.
The state budget is affecting Hartnell College, like all California community colleges in our state. I would say that the primary issue is budgetary – budget management and budget stability during turbulent times.
Having dealt with budgetary challenges throughout the years as an administrator in a community college, I believe that it is important to create a climate that is fair and equitable to all members of the college community. Thus, I would address these challenges by:
1 - working collaboratively with the President and the Board on budgetary oversight
2 - participating in the process of developing and implementing short-term and long-term goals
3 - ensuring that the shared governance process is maintained
4 - supporting community involvement and participation
5 - analyzing carefully information and data brought forth from the departments should budgetary issues affect program areas
6 - encouraging a transparent working environment.
If elected, I would respect the Board’s fiduciary responsibility to maintain a balanced budget even under times of fiscal constraints. I would also advocate that the process for doing so remains inclusive and representative of the college community as a whole.
I am a product of the California community college system, as a student and an employee. I have invested my career in education with 34 years as Counselor, Director and Vice President of Student Services at Cabrillo College. During that time, I also served as Statewide President of the California Community Colleges Student Services Association. I participated on the Chancellor’s Office Consultation Board and was a member of several accreditation teams.
I have also served my community as a Trustee for the Pajaro Valley Unified School District for 11 years and, these past 4 years as a Trustee of the North Monterey County Unified School District Board. I believe that I have the unique qualities to bring to the Hartnell College Board of Trustees, and that my extensive experience in the community college system has given me a deep understanding of the needs of the students, the employees and the community. I am a passionate advocate of higher education and lifelong learning, and support Hartnell College in its efforts to provide quality programs and services to this community.
My goal as a candidate for Trustee is to offer my years of experience in a community college, specifically in the face of budgetary constraints. A well-rounded Board is needed to meet the fiscal challenges, and I will come to the Board with the intent to work cohesively with the other 6 members of the Board. My direct experience complements the composition of the Board. And, I would be honored to serve in this capacity.
I've been a mortgage consultant since 2003.
I am running for Hartnell College Board of Trustees Area 4.
My primary focus is meeting the educational needs of the community. We have a high illiteracy rate, elevated high school drop out rate, and low number of high school graduates seeking a higher education. Hartnell College needs to be in the forefront of leading the fight against all of these challenges.
The community college has to address the issues and pull all its resources to provide adequate support for our community. The college needs to increase the student to full time counselor ratio from its current 1/1000. It needs to hire more staff to adequately support a more diverse (age, educational background and ethnicity) student population.
I've been volunteering in the community in various programs providing direct services to the the youth of Salinas. I'm aware of the challenges parents have in sending their children to college. I'm aware of the challenges that students have in staying in college. It is my personal experience as a lifelong resident of Salinas, former Hartnell College student and active volunteer that enables me to stay connected with all the members in the community. I will work diligently support our students and community members in overcoming those obstacles that prevent them from seeking and obtaing an education.
It’s going to take hard work and leadership to accomplish these goals with less money but I plan to work alongside fellow board members, business, educational, and community leaders to create a plan where we all work together to raise the level of education and standard of living for everyone.
Rosemary Ybarra Fickas
Financial Clerk for Mann Packing Produce
Running for Hartnell Community College Trustee Area 4.
Ensure affordable fees to local residents, bring back vocational and agriculture courses and provide more night, on-line and off campus courses to parents and working students.
By reaching out to our local schools, churches and senior centers and directly speaking to our potential students will allow them to get that second chance in life—through educaiton. I will drive to Sacramento and speak with our state officials and bring much needed dollars to our community. I am the best candidate that can reach our state officials in a timely manner.
I wanted to run for Hartnell Community College Board because I am the only candidate that has been around the Salinas area for over 40 years. During this time I have raised a family in East Salinas and North Salinas getting to know the parents of kids at Alisal and North Salinas and the biggest thing they tell me is there is nothing for there kids to look forward to here in Salinas. I want to change that. Hartnell College Campus is probally one of the brighest spots in Salinas for our children and our community (including Seniors) to get a leg up on life. I want to energize our Community called Salinas once again like it was when I raised my children here 30 years ago.
We need to think outside the box and get creative. By working with the local business community we can raise funds through the foundation and provide more scholarships to students in our community. We need to think about grants (Federal and State) that can better our classrooms and campus.
Monterey County Board of Education, Area 4
My primary goal is to bring innovation and 21st century learning to our classrooms while managing an effective and efficient budget, and reducing class size.
My community experience and leadership has shown a track record of success. i have worked side-by-side with community leaders, and will continue to do so for all the children of Monterey County.
With a thorough review of resources, eliminating waste and duplication where possible; by promoting the expansion of public-private partnerships throughout Monterey County with MCOE; and promoting a more aggressive grant writing program not only in the Monterey County office of Education, but training all Monterey County School Districts to compete for these funds, maximizing each dollar they have.
Monterey County Board of Education, Area 4
We need to do a better job in addressing the problem, of youth delinquency, youth addiction, and youth involvement in gangs. Our children spend many hours in school and in the classroom and these problems continue unabated. I also want every student every student to have the tools to succed at a university level. Every child should have the "University experience." Our outstanding student of today is our model citizen of tomorrow.
Work closely with local government agencies such as the health, police, and probation departments; work with local boards and districts to re-inforce prevention programs now in place and institute new ones proven to be effective. In re. to a University education, work with local Boards and closely with classroom teachers who know the needs of the child more than anyone else and find out first-hand what is needed and what is lacking; how to challenge advanced students and bring those at low and basic levels to a Proficient and Advanced status. Focus on our students with specials circumstances and special needs in their education.
In nearly a half century no Hispanic has represented Area 4. Today Area 4 is 78% Hispanic. I have lived in Area 4 for 30 years and know the residents their hopes and aspirations better than anyone else. I am also highly proficient in both Spanish and English. Furthermore, I am an educator with over 3 decades of experience in the educational field at various levels and served in many committees particularly those that focused on creation of strong curriculum, student achievement, and prevention of delinquency and gang involvemnt. I am seeking an office that should focus on the education of children; not the business aspect of education. Additionally, every license and university degree I hold is in the field of education: 2 Life Teaching Credentials, one in Social Science and one in Liberal Studies, a Bachelor of Arts in a double/ option major History and Mexican-American Studies, and a Masters Degree in Counselor Education.
Improving education does not require money, in my opinion, it requires well-thought out decisions by someone with the experience in education that I have; someone who knows the needs of children and the community- someone whose been in the "trenches" of education. Education can be improved by enhancing the delivery of lessons by classroom teachers, for example. Provide the teacher with more support in every facet of his/her work with children. The classroom teacher is the key to meeting any educational and civic goal and must be supported wholeheartedly. Also, develop creative ways to improve parent involvement in the academic life of the child. Much of this does not require more money, simply more sensible approaches which my experience allows me to bring to the fore.
I think that it has to be an agreement as to what programs are needed in every school district and start from there, I do believe that it is a lack of communication among board members, we need to have a real assessment of what is needed.
Community members feel that they don't have real representation from the board and they have asked me to represent them.
Communicating with other board members and contacting the department of education as the needs of Monterey County office of Education are, I am sure that we need to contact our higher representatives to accomplish that.
Higher Education Administration professional having served in colleges and universities in Monterey and in the Washington, DC area. Monterey Peninsula College Faculty Member.
Monterey Peninsula Community College District Trustee
In short, it is relevancy and currency. Education must be relevant and current to the needs of our community, the needs of the region, the needs of the nation, and the needs of our globalized society. The nature of how we educate must be examined in terms of efficiency and outcomes. The concept of relevancy and currency extends to MPC's service area. At present, many businesses in our community are not in the position to hire. In fact, numerous commercial property vacancies on Alvarado Street, Monterey's "Main Street" remain vacant. Seaside and Marina are experiencing similar effects. Like businesses, colleges must be relevant and current to survive.
Innovative ways to put students on the leading edge on learning new skills that are relevant and current to the individual's and community's needs must be explored. This requires a trustee who is versed in what education is and what MPC, local government, associations, and the community can do.
Expand collaborative education partnerships that develop academic credit opportunities for MPC students to: 1) Transfer to four-year institutions more efficiently; and 2) Facilitate concurrent enrollment for high school students. Also, review vocational education programs in terms of relevancy and currency to the community, and examine innovative and synergistic ways to provide general or personal development courses that are of interest to the community and that are neither intended for transfer or are vocational in nature.
I believe in MPC and its mission as a community college. I presently work at two institutions and I have focused my career on this unique but fragile sector of American higher education. There are no board members or candidates with my unique and value-added experience. I possess direct faculty experience not only at MPC but at other colleges, administration experience at several colleges, local board experience and I have the technical knowledge obtained through a Doctor of Education (Ed.D.).
I bring an informed and unique perspective to the MPC board. Not only do I know the right questions to ask, I know the follow up questions that an informed trustee must ask. I am able to ensure that effective communication takes place with populations that are less serviced by MPC, either in English, Spanish or Italian, and with those who are disabled. I have worked as a Congressional Staff member and served as a Captain in the U.S. Army.
My work pertaining to community college partnerships, access, and open universities was cited or published by community college systems to include large systems found in Florida and Texas; smaller non-profit organizations; national and international associations such as Association for the Study of
Higher Education (ASHE) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
Also, as a member of MPC's faculty, I am in touch with the individuals who teach us, our sons, our daughters, our employees, our neighbors. I understand the significance of maintaining high student learning outcomes and assessing those outcomes.
Last, although the minimum requirement to run for Trustee is being a registered voter in the Trustee Area, you can be assured that I will never seek a position that I do not sincerely believe that I am best qualified to fill.
The theme of relevancy and currency again resurface. A rational, measured approach is needed to assure relevancy and currency. Collaborative and creative education partnerships can yield greater graduation rates for our students. For instance, the concept of bringing education to the student can yield tremendous benefits to the college and to the students it serves. Vocational education programs in developing fields add to the concept of relevancy and currency. Development courses that are of interest to the community and delivered to the community through shared use facilities and other resources deliver education at a reduced cost.
Executive Director, Old Monterey Business Association
Democrat, endorsed by the Monterey County Democratic Central Committee and U.S. Rep. Sam Farr (D-Carmel)
Running for MPC Board of Trustees, Area 3
Primary Issue: I believe the the current economy as it effects MPC and, in turn the community at large, is the primary issue facing MPC. The challenge will be how to mitigate these effects. What can all of us do about it? We can develop and expand the relationship between the college and the community. It should be noted that there is already a very close relationship between the school and the Monterey Peninsula community at large. But I believe that relationship can be strengthen - for the benefit of both the school and the community. For instance, in spite of the chilling unemployment rates, I hear from businesses that it is difficult to find qualified workers when they do have positions open. If the business community can strengthen its relationship with MPC during these tough economic times, then MPC can be the key to the business community's future - and our common future on the Peninsula. MPC has done a very good job of budgeting for worse-case scenarios. But we are not out of this turbulent economy yet. I believe we need to find new ways and new collaborations in order to meet the challenges facing MPC and the community at large. Perhaps a closer relationship between the community colleges in the greater area, where cuts in one academic or occupational studies area are not repeated at the other college. As a long-time community member, I can be instrumental in bringing various factions of the community together to define and achieve success.
Why can I and not my opponent? I can only speak for myself, but I am confident that I have, in many ways over the years, earned the trust and respect of our community. What better qualification can there be for the position of community college trustee then to be trusted by the very community that is, itself, entrusted with the success and growth of the college? I also fully understand, and appreciate, that the job of a trustee is not to administer the college, but to guide and hold accountable the administration as it does its work. I also understand that, although MPC (at long last) elects the Board of Trustees based on geographic areas, that it is imperative that each trustee works diligently for the welfare of the entire district. I can bring a wealth of community involvement and caring to the position of trustee. I am committed to do doing just that.
How can I accomplish this goal in the face of budget constraints? The only way to accomplish any of the goals will be to realistically identify achievable goals and involve MPC and the entire community in accomplishing them. Identifying achievable goals and defining creative strategies is what I do daily in the business community. Certainly an added challenge is to also plan for a better future in the midst of the current economic situation; MPC has an excellent administration that is doing just that. I am committed to bringing my experience as a an involved community leader, my ability to strategize and meet challenges head-on, and my personal sense of optimism to the Board of Trustees as be part of a dynamic team working for the success of the school as a vital component of our common future. When I first arrived in Monterey, as a student at the Defense Language Institute, I realized the keen sense of community that is endemic to the Monterey Peninsula. I believe that MPC is fundamental to that sense of civic identity.
Following my military service, I became an MPC student, before transferring to the University of San Francisco where I earned my bachelor’s and master’s degrees. I know that the time I spent at MPC was an essential component of later success in life.
As a community member, I have served on the Citizen’s Oversight Committee for the MPC Bond Measure, the Institutional Review Board at the Naval Postgraduate School and California’s 17th Congressional District’s Military Academies Selection Advisory Board. I am currently the executive director of the Old Monterey Business Association.
As a business leader, I am acutely aware of the many uncertainties during these turbulent economic times. Yet, I believe, it is essential to our common future that MPC continues to be at the forefront of California community colleges.
Diane Jacobson Creasey
Candidate for Area 1 trustee
I have worked as a Registered Nurse for the last 28 years in the fields of oncology, cardiology, and maternal-newborn nursing. I have also worked part-time as a clinical instructor in 2 community colleges supervising nursing students in the hospital setting for 8 years. I am the current MPUSD board president and have served on the board since March 2007 when I was appointed to the board to take Robert Eggers place representing Marina.
The primary issue for me is to provide the highest quality of educational programs for all students in the district, given the realities in funding from the state. That means that all students will have equal access to the curriculum and equitable opportunities to develop their potential, including experiences in music, art, and athletics. This also includes providing professional development and coaching for teachers and principles as they continue to implement effective teaching and classroom management strategies to promote learning.
As a board member I will hold the Superintendent, District Administration, site leaders, and teachers responsible for the their part in promoting academic excellence. I will also support and continue to develop parent and community involvement that supports our children's education.
I believe that I am the best candidate for this position because I have been an involved parent in Marina schools for the last 16 years, ever since I moved to Marina in 1995. Between 1996 and 2007 I served on PTA boards every year. I also served on the MPUSD Strategic Planning Committee for 18 months in 2004-2005. I have frequently expressed my point of view in MPUSD board meeting since 1996. I know first hand as a parent, classroom volunteer, and board member what it has been like and what it is like in the classrooms. One reason I became a board member is because I wanted to promote improvements in a child's educational experience and how the district was being managed. I believe that my educational background and career experience are valuable assets in working on that goal.
Careful planning, evaluating processes and outcomes, and district wide accountability will be vital to meet the goal of improving academic excellence for all students. The District has been financially responsible and prudent in the choices we have made, and as a result MPUSD is one of the districts in California that is able to meet the three-year budget projections demonstrating a stable, solvent school district. During these times, increasing parent and community involvement will also be important in expanding our students education and preparing them for the future, whether it be a career track or collage bound.
Human Resources Analyst
Candidate for Trustee, Monterey Peninsula Unified School District [MPUSD], Area 3
Reclaim the public schools. The existing MPUSD Board is content with below average student achievement and strained relationships with patrons, local businesses and cities. I believe the Board should be held fully accountable for students achieving to a high standard and for maintaining a district that is tightly woven into the community fabric.
I get things done with strategic planning and leadership. My campaign is building a powerful coalition of patrons, community members, cities, business interests and employees eager to capitalize on all available resources to strengthen this district.
Using leadership skills refined by extensive board experience, I will advance an agenda that openly engages parents and staff to raise the bar on expectations. Goals shall be clear. Progress shall be measured and reported regularly. Improvements shall be demonstrated in student performance, relationships with parents, employee satisfaction and community relationships.
I will challenge the Board to chart a course for the district’s future. I will advocate vigorously that peninsula communities, businesses and patrons together build a public school system distinguished by its excellence. I will forge coalitions to make it happen.
MPUSD student performance is rated below state averages across most schools and in nearly every category. My opponent’s record is strong evidence that he believes the current student performance levels and existing community relationships are acceptable.
California has established an Academic Performance Index [API]. It is a single number between 200 and 1000. It is used to measure the academic performance and growth of schools. Across California, slow growth in API has occurred throughout the economic turmoil in recent years.
Four other California unified school districts, very close in size to MPUSD, score at the statewide performance target (800) or above (816, 867, 883). They accomplish this while spending less per pupil than MPUSD.
API is far from perfect. But it makes a very strong case that impressive student achievement is not simply a matter of money. It is a matter of leadership.
Attorney/project manager, Trustee Area 3, MPUSD Board of Education
Accountability - of the staff to the scool board and of the school board to the public.
Sharpen board oversight of staff administrative decisions and be personally accountable to the public for my school board activities on its behalf.
I'm strongly vested in the Monterey community. As a product of MPUSD schools and as a long-time participant in local public service, I understand the essential issues we face. I am committed to taking every feasible step necessary to correct any of the school district's shortcomings.
By carefully scrutinizing every expenditure decision, exercising fiscal restraint in every instance. School district budgets are a central issue in California's current constitutional crisis. Local school boards must lead by example showing that we don't have to totally defer to Sacramento in solving public education's financial problems.
Fire/Security Alarm Technician & CA Licensed Electrical Contractor
Candidate for Trustee, Monterey Peninsula Unified School District Area 1
Falling API scores and lack of transparency. The District Board has not looked at alternative methods to address these challenges. Moreover, the District Board has created an atmosphere of distrust due to its failure to act in an open and honest manner, which has resulted in significant tension between the District and the community.
I will focus on improving the public education system. Working with parents and community members, I will advocate for the implementation of more diverse educational programs, such as mentoring programs and homework clubs, to help students better understand the material they are being taught. Engaging and collaborating with the community by creating a more welcoming environment will help our students be successful and will bring about better student performance, better relationships with parents, better employee satisfaction and community relationships.
Over the past several years, Marina schools’ academic performance scores have been dropping at an alarming rate, and Monterey Peninsula Unified School District Board members have not addressed the declining scores. Nor is the Board acting with transparency to represent the Marina community.
Since my opponent was elected in 2007, the Academic Performance Index (API) Scores in four of the five Marina schools have declined. For example, Marina High School’s API Scores dropped over 10% from 2007 to 2010. Yet, the District Board fails to take any action to remedy this decline.
If elected, I will focus on improving the public education system through collaboration with community members. The Peninsula citizens are well known for their willingness to volunteer to benefit the community as a whole. Unfortunately, due to the District’s lack of honesty that has created a hostile environment, volunteerism in schools has dropped, with my leadership; the District will re-gain the trust of the community and will reenergize volunteerism and fundraising. Other unified school districts very close in size to MPUSD, spend less per pupil than MPUSD, yet their API scores are above 800. This makes a very strong case that student achievement is not simply a matter of money, but requires community participation – “It takes a village to raise a child”
Proprietor/Owner Chateau Julien Wine Estate, Division 5 Monterey Peninsula Water Management District
Water supply issues facing the Peninsula. As Chair of the Water Supply Committee we have a slate of 5 projects that are priority for the District.
I will work to become part of the Regional project, however, whatever happens with the project I am committed to making sure the citizens and business of the Peninsula continue to get reliable, sustainable and affordable water supplies in time to avoid the State ordered cutbacks!
I am shovel ready. As author and Chair of MPWMD's Water Supply Comittee I have developed the slate of water projects that are being implemented by the District. My opponent suggests that by acquiring Cal-Am water company that somehow will be inexpensive and create new water. Now is the time to focus on supply and keep the course on Water Supply issues!
While money is always an issue we can achieve our financing goals through public bond and existing fee arrangements. Everyone is aware that public benefit water projects will require support. A good example of our prowness in water delivered at a very low cost is our project (Water Project 1) - this project supplied just under 10% of your supply at a small cost of about 6.5 mil. We will be successful!
Architect - licensed in California and Wyoming
Monterey Peninsula Water Management District, Division 4
My goal is to provide a sustainable, drought resistant water project/solution before the end of 2016, which will resolve the Carmel River over-pumping as well as provide for economic recovery and moderate economic growth.
My past performance in City and Regional government has shown that I have the ability to resolve the complex and difficult issues surrounding new water and more extensive use of reclaimed water for the Peninsula. My proven leadership and past connection with some of the agencies that may be involved in a regional project will be an advantage in the negotiations required to be part of a desal solution. Moving a project forward for the use of reclaimed water for the Pacific Grove Golf Course and Cemetery is an extention of what I recommended when I was Mayor of PG. Again, the agencies involved are people I have worked successfully with before.
I have vastly more experience and background in the water issues of the Peninsula for the past 30 years. As an architect I have worked with the District regulations since the District was formed in 1977 and understand the regulations that are well founded and those that are arbitrary. I understand completely the conservation measures that have been implemented and how construction projects can comply. Through my experience with City and regional government I am very familiar with funding mechanisms and municipal budgets.
Where my opponent has admitted there was a steep learning curve for her, a learning curve for me will be minimal.
The budget for the District is separate from most of the funding options for a major project. Negotiations and participation with other agencies involved in a project or series of projects will be key to accomplishing funding through bonds or other options.
Incumbent Director, Monterey Peninsula Water Management District, Division 4
Meeting and securing the Peninsula’s current and long-term water supply needs through a combination of publicly supported, locally managed, and environmentally responsible projects, including increased Carmel River water storage and supply, water recycling in partnership with the water pollution control agency, increased water efficiency and catchment, and pursuit of a small District-managed desalination facility. On par with this issue is continued Carmel River restoration and protection.
Work with the District Board to expand the ongoing aquifer storage and recovery (ASR) project to double it’s current yield in the short term and to explore additional expansion for drought-proofing in the long term; create a partnership with MRWPCA to support recycling (with a subsequent increase in ASR); increase public outreach to encourage continued water efficiency and help businesses and homes get the water they need using the most up-to-date technologies; continue negotiations to find a suitable site, get public approval, and obtain environmental and other permits for a desalination project; and promote more water catchment through cisterns and reservoirs. Continue to explore other options as they become available.
I have 4 years of experience and up-to-date knowledge of our complex water issues. I understand the history, politics, technologies and fiscal challenges. I work as a team member and believe in civil discourse and open, responsible and representative government. I know we are facing a severe water situation and believe that we, as a community, can meet it.
By working cooperatively to keep the Board committed to its current, comparatively less costly solutions and undertaking collective District leadership in the Peninsula’s water matters. By maintaining transparency and actively gaining support from individuals, businesses, hospitality, citizen’s groups, cities, allied agencies and other elected officials concerned with water to secure less-costly public financing for various publicly-managed, more affordable, “modular” projects which can be expanded in the future as constraints are eased.
By remaining open to the possibility that should the current Regional Desalination Project’s conflict of interest, water rights, and financing and issues be resolved, or that its contracts are declared void, that the District will represent the public in any future iteration of the project.
Gary De Amaral
Business Technology Analyst for the County of Monterey
North Monterey County Unified School District School Board
Maximizing students opportunity for success.
Continue the reformation of administrative structure and personnel, the institution of new educational processes and the establishment of true fiscal stability.
I have over 25 years of management and workflow evaluation experience, extensive leadership experience within multiple types of organizations and a proven track record of developing successful young adults.
Elimination of waste, true accountability and high expectations of district personnel to deliver maximum value for the investment made in their respective positions.
VP Food Safety and Regulatory Compliance
To prioritize the budget to achieve students’ needs. Preserve and fund vocational programs, such as FFA, wood shop, and welding.
I believe, due to the State’s budget crisis, that now more than ever elected officials should work with the community leaders, businesses, and non-profits to look for ways to partner and network to benefit the community at large. Creating growth opportunities for our students is essential. We need to look for additional ways of providing activities that can help them grow intellectually and emotionally and become motivated, productive members of the community. As much as we need to focus on education in the classroom to meet Federal and State mandates, it is important to provide students with education and opportunities outside of the classroom. Farm Day is a great example of tactile, real-life education experience outside of the class room. But that first-hand type of education shouldn’t stop there. We need to look for ways to involve the community and open the students’ perspectives, introducing them to all of the opportunities that are available to them once they graduate from High School.
I am running for North Monterey County School Board because I want to make a difference in our community. I want our students to be set up for success, not failure, upon graduation. I do not have children in the school distict and I have not worked as a teacher or other school employee so I have an unbiased view of the district and it's issues. I am concerned for the youth (at every age and every school) in our district and want to see them succeed.
We need to be realistic and transparent with the budget and monies the distict has access to. By working with the Superintendent, community leaders, businesses, and non-profits we can provide more opportunities for learning and resources for teachers and classrooms.
Independent, Retired Police Commander after 30 years of service with the Salinas Police Department, currently seeking a third term as a trustee for the Salinas City Elementary School District.
The single biggest issue facing every school district in Monterey County is the budget. When I was first elected to office in 2003 our district had a five million dollar budget deficit and was on the verge of State takeover. Within eighteen months we were able to turn the budget deficit around and since 2005 have maintained a balanced budget even though State funding has been cut each and every year since then. Our district has had the same funding level since 2005, yet we have 2000 more students. Even with the additional students we have avoided layoffs, maintained the smallest class sizes in the city, and raised State test scores every year since taking office.
It is apparent that the State plans to continue cutting funding for education so we will continue to be extremely vigilant with our budget. As in the past we will utilize a budget committee comprised of parents, teachers, classified employees, and anyone from the community to help establish any necessary cuts that may need to be made in order to balance the budget with the single goal of keeping any cuts as far away from the classroom as possible.
I really do not know much about my opponent other than he is a teacher in Monterey and has never held a political office before. I will say that I believe I have the experience of serving as trustee over him. I proud of my eight years of service to the children of this district as we were able to maintain a balanced budget, build a new school, raise test scores, and pass a facilities bond measure allowing us to remodel all of our schools to increase safety for all the children, parents, and staff at each site. Since taking office we also revamped our food services program. Prior to my first election our food services program operated in the red resulting in precious general fund money being used to cover the deficit. Within a short period after being elected we switched to a new food vendor and ever since have maintained a positive budget and increased the quality of our food 100 percent. One thing I am particularly proud of is each of our school sites now have salad bars with fresh fruits and vegetables that are purchased locally.
The one thing every district has no control over is the budget as they are beholden to the State and it is quite clear the State is going to balance it's own budget on the backs of education. With that in mind, we can only accomplish our goals of raising student test scores by thinking smarter about how will will spend what limited funding we have. This starts with establishing partnerships with local business and community groups to assist in educating our children. Another force multiplier would be more parental involvement at our school sites to assist the staff, and finally, spend only those monies that directly benefit the classroom. It is clear the budget issue won't be easy, however based on our past success of maintaining a balanced budget, I am confident we will succeed in the future.
In closing I would like to add that all of the positive things our district has accomplished since I took office eight years ago were not the result of me, but rather the result of having a great superintendent, Dr. Donna Alonzo Vaughn, fantastic teachers, and a dedicated classified staff that made it all work. All I did was support them as a a board member.
Mariana V. Ochoa
Heald School of Business graduate AAS major in Accounting
Classified Personnel Director (Santa Cruz City Schools)/Parent
-Providing an environment in which our children can thrive, achieve high academic goals, and grow into caring, competent students prepared for higher education
-Providing Quality Service
I believe that our most important task is to provide an environment in which our children can thrive. I want to be involved in the decisions that impact my children's education. I can not think of a better way to gain understanding and accountability for those decisions, than by taking this first step and getting involved. I am excited for the opportunity to give back to my community as a Trustee of Santa Rita Union School District.
I am a parent of three children currently attending McKinnon Elementary. My sister and nephews are Gavilan View Middle School graduates and are now thriving in high school thanks to the foundation they received through this district. I believe in the potential its students, staff, and community have to work together to achieve success. Prior to Santa Cruz City Schools I was employed with Santa Rita School District for the last ten years. I am committed to working hard and serving my community. As a parent and Human Resources Director, I bring relevant skills, knowledge, a fresh perspective and an objective eye.
It is difficult to provide a well rounded education when districts have to cut programs like foreign language, art, and music. Finding a balance, while still providing enrichment for students is the biggest challenge. We can do this, even in tough times, with thoughtful planning, careful, consistent oversight, and most importantly, the remarkable commitment of everyone in the Santa Rita community to support our schools.
I retired from Santa Rita District after ten years as their CBO and 24 years in school finance. I am now completing my 8th year on the school board.
Finance and keeping the district running with the major cuts from the State.
Continue to work the board and administration to make the best decisions for our children and remain solvent.
The voters will decide who is best for the position. My opponent is a lovely person who has worked for the district.
The Board members need to be very knowledge in school finance and I have that experience. Boards must work together, not as individuals, to make the best decisions possible in light of the severe cuts to school revenues.
School Safety is my primary issue and concern. All school campuses should be free from violence, drugs and bullying. when students have a fear of going to school it affects their learning abilities which has an adverse affect on api scores. Parent involvement is a must and parents need to be encouraged and if necessary, mandated to help with the school safety issue and helping their children be successful in their learning environment.
If elected I will assess the needs of each campus for security risk and support police egg community collaboratives to make our campus' safer. I will recommend that we used todays technologies to inform parents of school activities and request their participation. Safer schools mean a better learning environment for students, a better working enviroment for teachers and a welcoming environment for parents and our community.
As a former mayor and council member of our city, I have the experience to get the job done. I have also sat as president of the school site council for the high school and been involved in several committees dealing with school issues and the high school accreditation process. I am parent of student who attends school in the district and will have another child entering kindergarten in a few years.
This should not have such a big impact on the budget however, I would support seeking grants and other funding opportunities to accomplish these goals. Also, I would encourage parents to volunteer at their children's school.