Online Forum Spotlights Candidates for School Board Seats in SB Unified and Goleta Union Districts

By Jerry Roberts of Newsmakers

Up against the Rams-49ers game for ratings, 10 candidates for five seats in two local school districts shared their views Monday night about literacy, sex ed, pandemic learning loss and a host of other issues facing public education.

A partnership of community groups, including The Resource Santa Barbara, the Coalition for Neighborhood Schools and the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, sponsored a campaign forum featuring competitors for both the Goleta Union and Santa Barbara Unified district boards of educations.

The November 8 election is the first under a new district election system for local school board contests, and the candidates answered questions for 90 minutes about challenges confronting public schools, both universal and district-specific.

Participating in the event were:

  • Three contenders for an open seat in SBUSD Trustee Area #1 – retired educator Efigenia Banales, student affairs professional Gabe Escobedo and parent Dan Le Berge

  • The incumbent in the Santa Barbara district’s Trustee Area #4, Rose Munoz, and her challenger, small business owner Phebe Mansur.

  • The rivals in Goleta Union’s Trustee Area #1 – incumbent and UCSB professor Richard Mayer, facing off against school teacher Caroline Abate.

  • Two of three candidates in the Goleta District’s Trustee Area #3 – teacher Christy Lozano and teacher Emily Zacarias. Also on the ballot is businessman Bert Haley.

  • Ethan Bertrand, a Democratic Party activist, who is the only candidate for the seat representing Goleta Union’s Trustee Area #5.

Among the more contentious matters were the sex education curriculum in Santa Barbara and a joint-use agreement between the City of Goleta and the School District.

The affair was co-moderated by longtime public schools advocate Lanny Ebenstein and Newsmakers’ own genial host.

You can watch the forum via YouTube below or by clicking through this link. Check back for a link to the podcast version.


Written by Jerry Roberts

“Newsmakers” is a multimedia journalism platform that focuses on politics, media and public affairs in Santa Barbara. Learn more at

What do you think?


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  1. Schools can do a better job and there are many systemic issues and entrenched interests that need to be addressed. But hiring a laid-off PE teacher and other assorted wannabe Fox News culture warriors is no way to do it. They have zero experience and their plans just consist of a mashup of slogans. If they think they can do a better job and have realistic policy plans, more power to them. But they don’t even come close to having a plan.

  2. Why can’t California round up these wanna be textbook/ masking ‘fascists’ and send them to …..Florida…..where they would be welcomed with open arms. These Lozano acolytes do not have the best interests of the public schools at heart. They would rather destroy our local public schools. Vouchers are always lurking in the background.

  3. Christy Lozano wouldn’t be rehired in SB again as a teacher. She was a miserably qualified candidate for Superintendent. Her home school has failed and she tried to start a $100 per day private school out of the Boys and Girls club, but the neighborhood chased her off. She might be a “normal” candidate in rural Oklahoma, but not here.

  4. Achoo, I assumed that he was unaccompanied on the video, since I saw no one else in the room. Apparently that was not the case, as was pointed out. And to answer your question, I’ll tell you why. There was a major disruption to our childrens’ education which was driven not by science, studies, or even any evidence (of children being spreaders of the virus) but by a lot of paranoia. That manifested in overkill shutdowns and mask wearing within our schools. It was unfounded, costly, and it was a detriment to the kids. Can anyone wear a mask if they want to? Sure, but don’t be thinking just because you chose to it means it should be fine to force that on others at this point, after where we went the past couple years. Call me defensive. On this one at this time, yeah absolutely.
    So in the context of a debate about where our schools are headed, it was upsetting to see someone moderating it with a mask on remotely. I made the incorrect assumption, and that’s on me. I appreciate the moderator’s clarification and respect his wish to wear a mask. I’m happy to see none of the candidates had to do so.

  5. I would encourage the undecided voters to cast your ballot for Phebe Mansur, SB District 4 candidate. She will add something much needed to the school board: a quality alternative to the status quo that runs most of Santa Barbara, as well as the state. Her constituency will be YOU; her focus the STUDENTS. Not a political party or ideology. Many of us attended California public schools when we were the envy of the nation. For decades, we ranked number one in schools. For some time now, we are positioned at or near the bottom. Status Quo clearly is not working. Vote for the candidate, not the party! Checks and Balance is a necessary component of our form of governance. We require healthy debate in the public arena, rigorous debate that encourages diversity of opinion and philosophy. Phebe Mansur is smart, concerned about improving the education of all our students, including those most vulnerable. She runs a small business (print shop) and is successful, skills that will serve her well on the dais. She’s a fine woman, committed to our community. Before you make a decision, check her out. Contact Phebe and ask her questions about the issues of greatest concern to you regarding local schools.

    • What a pile of dishonest baloney. She most certainly does have an ideology, and it’s why she is running–and no relevant experience or expertise (other than having spent a lot of time in summer school due to her admittedly having been a terrible student). Rose Muñoz is a better candidate in every way. That Phebe is “a fine woman” is completely irrelevant–so is Rose, so are many people. It’s not a reason to vote for Ms. Mansur. Likewise with Efi Banales, whom I know and have worked with on volunteer projects–a really nice person, but not the best candidate for the seat she is running for.

  6. As a reminder, below are the “Nutty Nine” candidates who are running on a “chaos” platform.
    They have banned together to infiltrate the system and will stop at nothing until their bigoted, religious agenda is inserted into the school system.
    These are dangerous and self serving people!
    Follow the money Santa Barbara, you deserve better!
    Gabriel Morales
    Caroline Abate
    Christy Lozano
    Sharon Jegottka
    Debi Stoker
    Efigenia Banales
    Rosanne Crawford
    Colleen Estrada
    Dani Blunk

  7. Lyin’ and a’ cryin’ all the day looooong,
    Trollin’ and a’ moanin’ ’bout ev’ryone,
    Rules fer theeeee….. oh yeah baby
    But not fer meeeee… no how!
    Fearin’ and a’ tearin’ ’bout them mean ol’ Liiiiiiiibs,
    Dishin’ up a bowl o’ hot steamin’ fibs,
    Rules fer theeeee….. oh yeah baby
    But not fer meeeee… no how!
    [Washboard and 1 string bass solo]
    Projectin’ and deflectin’ and a’ wearin a fez,
    Not gunna back up anything he says,
    Rules fer theeeee….. oh yeah baby
    But not fer meeeee… no how!
    [mouth harp outro]

  8. Sacjon quote “So, is someone speaks out about their beliefs and lifestyle choices, it’s OK to ridicule, laugh and insult them? That is what you are saying. Is that what you really mean? Think hard before answering that one……”
    Holly crap bro… I’ve been saying that for a year only to get insulted and told what I believe.

  9. I wouldn’t listen to anything the ITP @ UCSB wants to put out on ‘lessons on mask wearing’. There are far better sources, and it’s not Fauci and the CDC. It’s real academic institutions that have individuals that aren’t political, aren’t parrots, and specialize in data-driven conclusions. Think Stanford, John’s Hopkins, UCSF, etc. Anyone can tell you “a mask can prevent an airborne infection”. We’re way past that. At least some of us are.

  10. AHCOO, if the moderator kept their mask wearing and feelings to themselves it’s be no problem. It’s when those hypochondria feelings are expressed with school boards, spoken at city council meetings, emailed to politicians, etc. that it impacts others leading to schools shutdowns or draconian rules/procedures for students, businesses being closed or unnecessarily restricted, continued mandates for vaccines even for those at very low-risk, etc.

  11. Basic can’t even figure out how to reply properly to a comment to keep the thread organized. How do you expect him to come up with any sort of coherent answer to a complex question? For someone who claimed in the past to be a physician, he’s also remarkable clueless about health issues.

    • “If you don’t think masking is a real issue for schools” – where did I say that?
      1) YOU, not me, said we need to “stick to real issues.” I asked what those where. You failed to answer but instead put words into my mouth in an attempt to deflect, much like your RW/con/Rep buddies here.
      2) I agree that is a real issue, if that is what you now want to discuss here. Good thing is, NO PUBLIC SCHOOLS are requiring masks right now. So……..

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