SBUSD School Board Round 1
By Jerry Roberts of Newsmakers
Among the field are three current board members -- Laura Capps, Jackie Reid and Wendy Sims-Moten -- who took office automatically after the 2016 election because they were the only ones who signed up to run, and now seek new four-year terms. Montecito school administrator Virginia Alvarez, literacy advocate Monie de Wit, realtor Brian Campbell and county health inspector Elrawd MacLearn all are campaigning actively for the board.
The board has hiring and firing power over the superintendent, and recently recruited Hilda Maldonado from the L.A. Unified School District. She replaced Cary Matsuoka, who retired early from his contract amid a spate of high-profile controversies.that unfolded under the purview of Capps, Reid and Sims-Moten.
Newsmakers says check it out.
Best and worst of Round 1.
Last week, a Zoom call sponsored by the Coalition for Neighborhood Schools drew all of the School Board 7, as well as an audience of more than 120, including a number of campaign consultants and other political hacks, as well as dozens of parents and other actual Real People.
Josh Molina posted a good play-by-play account of the affair on Noozhawk, and here's our look at seven key moments.
Brian's burgers. Campbell is campaigning as a dad who's very active in his childrens' neighborhood schools and wants to address the district's problems in a practical way that cuts through the educratese and left-wing jargon of some controversial programs. Addressing the so-called Achievement Gap in test scores between white and Latino students, he recounted treating a group of his kids' friends at Hamburger Habit, and watching several struggle to read the menu, a small but telling scene that captured the reality of the problem in a down-to-earth way.
Wendy conquers Zoom. Sims-Moten and Reid, who share a political consultant, for the last four years consistently supported departed Superintendent Matsuoka in key decisions. Performing political ju-jitsu, she sought to make a virtue of her service as a member of the status quo by stressing the import of board "experience" at a time of pandemic crisis, deftly pivoting to the point by popping into Round 2 with a declaration of victory over Zoom after the app's technology had locked her out of the first round of questions: "Cool in a crisis," she announced herself.
Laura pushes back. Capps closed strong at the event, with a passionate and specific defense of every element of the board's progressive agenda that had been attacked by Elrawd and others, portraying the board's program as entirely appropriate for Santa Barbara values and the district's demographics. "We have one school in the entire district that is offering dual language immersion...Adelante is a magical place," she said. "Here we are in 2020, California. We live in a bilingual society. This is the future, like it or not for some of you. I embrace it."
This week's power rankings. Just under six weeks before the election, here is a totally subjective and data-free perspective on where the seven candidate race stands today, according to odds relayed by our Las Vegas Bureau Chief Anthony (Little Tuna) Frutti di Mare.
1-Laura Capps. Spurred by the urgency of the pandemic, she shook off the funk from losing a tough race for Supervisor, smoothly transitioning into a second full-bore 2020 campaign.
3-Jackie Reid. Many time-honored rules of local campaigning are out amid the pandemic, but sharing the Dem endorsement with Wendy and Laura still is a big organizational edge.
4-Virginia Alvarez. If the race was about professional qualifications alone, she'd finish first, but as a first-time hopeful needs to move quickly to match political assets of insider rivals.
5-Brian Campbell. He, de Wit and MacLearn compete for center-right voters as the four libs tussle on the left, and his recent council run and real estate connections help. Lose the hat.
6-Monie de Wit. Her personal story of struggles with dyslexia, both hers and her kid's, is powerful and moving but she needs to translate the jargon to own the literacy issue.
7-Elrawd MacLearn. A fresh-faced rookie, he's still a virtual unknown, but his message resonates with conservatives and he's shown flashes of talent in putting it across.
This just in. Our People finally have reached agreement with Their People, and Sims-Moten and Reid now are on the schedule for one-on-one interviews with Newsmakers TV. Those conversations will be upcoming and added to our archive of discussions with the other five candidates.