Tag Archives: board

Unofficial West Sac ballot results:


UPDATED Nov. 13.

With about 3,000 “provisional ballots” (representing about 25% of the vote in this race) still being sorted at the Yolo County Elections Office as of Nov. 13, the results are still early & unofficial. But here is how the local races in West Sacramento are shaping up. One change from the first reporting here: school board incumbent Dave Westin has dropped out of the top three, and challenger Alicia Cruz has stepped into one of the three winner’s spots in that race.

As of now, 100% of the precincts have reported,, but the results are still unofficial. Election officials have 28 days from the election day to finish counting, and are trying to finish sooner — perhaps by Thanksgiving.



Christopher Cabaldon (unopposed)          10,287 votes, or 100%


CITY COUNCIL (top two)

WILLIAM ‘BILL’ KRISTOFF (Inc.)            8,262 votes, or 45.7%

OSCAR E. VILLEGAS (Inc.)                          8,035 votes, or 44.5%

OLEG MASKAEV                                                         1,768 votes, or 14.0%



KATIE VILLEGAS                                                  6,619 votes, or 48.7%

ALICIA CRUZ                                                          4,915 votes, or 19.6%

MARY M. LELAND  (Inc.)                                  4,598 votes, or 18.3%

DAVE WESTIN  (Inc.)                                                 4,510 votes, or 18.0%

COBY PIZOTTI                                                              1,930 votes, or 7.7%

WALT R. BOWMAN                                                     1,496 votes, or 6.0%

ROY SIANEZ                                                                  1,469 votes, or 5.9%


MEASURE G, Revenue Uses Advisory Vote

YES: 10,269 votes, or 87.4%

NO:  1,483 votes, or 12.6%


West Sacramento voter turnout: 6,264 of 23,168 Registered Voters (27.0%)


Copyright News-Ledger 2012



  EDITOR’S NOTE: The News-Ledger interviewed each candidate for West Sacramento’s city council and school board during the past couple of month, in an effort to help voters get to know them and their positions. Below is the result of our interview with school board incumbent David Westin, published in the newspaper on Oct. 24:

By Steve Marschke
News-Ledger Editor

DAVE WESTIN: Believes in accountability for management of West Sacramento public school district (photo from WUSD website)

“Philosophically, I believe the district functions best when you have parents on the school board who have kids in the district,” said school board incumbent David Westin, who is seeking another term. “I think there’s a disconnect when people are using the school board as a stepping stone for city council or county supervisor.”

Westin and his family live in the Bridgeway Lakes part of Southport. He and his wife have had seven kids (one is deceased).

“I’m very proud to have children in the Washington Unified School District,” he told the News-Ledger. “I have one in first grade, one in third, and one will be entering kindergarten next fall.”

Westin is currently an executive for a German tech company. He has a bachelor’s degree in business finance from USC and an accounting certificate from Golden Gate University.

Westin believes that the district’s API performance is a meter of its recent success. In the two years preceding this one, WUSD saw its performance on this index of student test scores go up a total of 48 points. This year, there was a one-point slip.

“We’ve been able to change the culture in the district, and run it more like a business, with quantifiable goals and objectives,” he said. “During my two terms as board president, we were the top-rated school district in the state of California.”

That rating, he said, was based on the improvements in API scores.

How much is Westin responsible for the gains?

“I think I take some of the credit for being board president during those record-breaking years, and setting the vision that enabled us to achieve that,” he answered. “However, that said, the credit really goes to the administrators, staff, parents, teachers and the kids who did the work.”

Other positive signs for West Sacramento’s public school district include an increase in the state funding that comes in proportion to the “ADA,” or average daily attendance. Local schools are getting more ADA money because they are seeing more students from day to day in the classrooms.

“You’re seeing that in the additional $370,000 in ADA we’ve picked up,” said Westin. “That means two things – one, more people are putting their kids in the district, and two, the attendance rate has gone up so we’re engaging kids more effectively. . . The dropout rate has gone down significantly. It beats the county and state averages.”

So why did the API scores cease their upward climb this year?

Some of that is due to the economic instability of families, and to other changes like drawing new boundaries for local school attendance and changing the campuses attended by some kids, he said.

“This year, there was a one-point drop in API district-wide. There was a lot of that drop in the north. I would say that when we have families hurting, that’s going to affect the kids – they may not have stable home life or the resources to (compete).”

“There are districts like Natomas, Rancho Cordova, etc., that have fallen completely off the cliff with test scores. We’ve been able to hold steady.”

Westin believes “the current model is solid” and the school board “is doing a very good job” despite big cuts in state funding that have translated into harsh measures like reduction of most school bus service.

  “I think the number-one challenge is money,” he commented.

He said he backs the political endorsements of the California School Boards Association, which urges “yes” votes on the governor’s Proposition 30 and Molly Munger’s Prop. 38 – both of which may use taxes in part to help out public schools.

If money starts to come back, where would Westin spend it?

“Number one is to reinstate busing,” he answered. I think that’s strategically important. Number two, is that the number-one issue from the parents’ perspective is to get kids to do their homework. So having more after-school homework support groups for kids is (my other) top priority.”

Another tactic to improve education:

“One of the things that will take the district to the next level is to implement a peer-to-peer program so that principals from different schools can go see how other schools in the district are run, and take ‘best practices.’ Also teachers – so a math teacher from, say, Riverbank can go see how math is taught at Bridgeway or how English is taught at Southport, or how they do it at Westmore Oaks. . . I think everyone has been focusing on taking the district to (this) level and this is what will take it to a higher level.”

What about charter schools: does Westin tend to approve of them, or disapprove of them?

“I don’t have a bias,” he answered. I am an independent person who can put children first, politics second. It’s a case-by-case basis (for considering them).”

What does a board member’s job description look like, according to this veteran school board member?

“Insuring there is accountability, transparency and bottom-line results.”

Westin reports having been endorsed by retiring board president Teresa Blackmer, current board member Adam Menke, challenger Alicia Cruz, the River City Democratic Club and the local teachers’ union.

Is Westin running hard for re-election to the board of trustees?

“I’m very active in walking precincts and I enjoy meeting the public,” he said. “One of the things that sets me apart from everybody else is, for the last eight years, I’ve had regular office hours at my house every Monday from 5-6.”

Interested people may call him at 376-0880 to schedule an appointment to talk about their WUSD concerns, said Westin.

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Copyright News-Ledger 2012

Roy Sianez, running for school board:


  Editor’s note: This interview with school board candidate Roy Siañez comes from the Oct. 10 edition of the News-Ledger, West Sacramento’s weekly community newspaper. We hope these interviews help you make up your mind about the upcoming Nov. 6 ballot.

By Steve Marschke
News-Ledger Editor

Roy Siañez is a new resident of West Sacramento – his family closed escrow on a local house in February. But he wants to start serving this community. That’s why he is running for one of three seats available on the local school board on Nov. 6.

“I’m a parent,” he told the News-Ledger recently. “I understand the importance of a quality education for students and also the importance of parental involvement. I’m new to West Sacramento, but I’m not new to serving my community. . . I’m eager to bring that community activism to West Sacramento.”

ROY SIANEZ: wants to contribute to West Sacramento

Siañez, 39, is currently a policy director for Democrat Norma Torres in the State Assembly. He’s worked for other politicos on issues that span health, public safety, education, housing and other topics.

“As a legislative director, I advise her on every single issue,” he said.

Siañez does not have any kids in local schools – one daughter has graduated, and a second goes to school in another city.

He’s been active in a number of regional and state causes over the years, beginning with his own student college days.

“I was a member of the Latino Complete Count Committee, working to ensure the Latino community was counted appropriately for the 2010 census,” Siañez said. He’s also a former board member of the Oak Park Business Association. Another favorite cause is the Youth Leadership Project.

“I’ve served on that organization for nine years,” he told the News-Ledger. “Every year, we bring 120 high school students from across the state to this area in the summer. They stay in the Sacramento State University dorms for a week, at no cost to them. We pay for all their housing, registration and transportation.

Siañez believes in the value of education. He grew up in Modesto, raised by a single mother who worked in a factory.

“She spent most of her time working, so she wasn’t able to help me with school,” he reports.   “I kind of strayed in school.”

He dropped out of school, then – on the advice of a friend – enrolled in a junior college without even knowing that it was customary to transfer after a couple of years to finish a college degree.

Financial aid and fee waivers made it possible for him to go to college:

“That started my journey into higher education,” Siañez said. “I transferred to Sacramento State years later. At the junior college level, that’s where I started developing as a person and educationally. That’s where I became involved in advocacy.”

  The activism started in Latino clubs and with a run for student senate.

Then came an internship in the legislature and an ensuing career at the Capitol. He has landed near West Sacramento’s Bridgeway Lakes area.

How does he think the current school board is doing?

“I know there are several board members who have served long terms,” Siañez answered. “Longevity and continuity are generally good things.”

Test scores seem to be on the right path, he added.

“Whenever we have an increase in test scores, that’s a good thing. It means you’re doing something right. But if one school increased by ten points, and another only by five points, I want to know about that.”

What sort of financial shape is Washington Unified in?

“My understanding is that the Yolo County Office of Education has certified the school district’s budget, which is a positive thing,” said Siañez. “I would hope that could be the case for future years to come.”


“It’s a scary thought about what would happen if the governor’s initiative (Proposition 30) to increase revenue doesn’t pass. I definitely think we need to increase revenue given the economic climate.”

One of the reasons Siañez believes he would make a good school board member is his own Latino experience.

“41 percent of the students in the school district are Latino,” he said. “It begs the question – if you look at the school board, and look at the students, does the school board really reflect the students?”

Siañez believes that sports and extracurricular activities are crucial for some students.

“Frosh football was great for me, because it kept me out of trouble,” he recalls. “After the season ended, my idle time became a problem. . . (After dropping out), my motivation for trying to return to high school was to play football.”

He supports “any and all programs that can help our neediest students with some of the voids they bring, to attend school.”

How does Siañez feel about charter schools?

“Not all charter schools are equal, he replied. “You have to look at whether there’s a need, and if there is a need, explain it. If there’s a public school that’s been failing, consider it. It’s a case by case basis.”

What is it in his experience that would make Siañez a good board member?

“My public policy experience, my experience as a parent, and my experience as a product of the public educational system,” he answered.

“West Sacramento is my new home,” concluded Siañez. I’m involved, and I plan to be here a long time. I’m eager to get involved and make a difference – I don’t want to wait.”
Siañez, along with several other challengers and two incumbents, is seeking one of three seats on the school board this fall.

  You can support local journalism, support this website, and see all the News-Ledger’s articles every week! Subscribe to the News-Ledge newspaper. It’s only $20 per year within West Sacramento – once a week, delivered to your mailbox.

  You can even try it for free for two months if you live in West Sacramento. Just send your name and mailing address to FreeTrial@news-ledger.com (offer open to new subscribers in West Sacramento ZIP codes 95691 & 95605).

Copyright News-Ledger 2012

Meet Walt Bowman, WUSD candidate


  Editor’s Note: each local election cycle, the News-Ledger invites all candidates for West Sacramento local office to meet us for a published interview. Those interviews are seen first by News-Ledger subscribers. We’re pleased to offer our Oct. 3 interview with Walt Bowman below. He’s running for one of three available seats on the Washington Unified School District school board.

By Steve Marschke, News-Ledger Editor

Walt Bowman is a 71-year old retired truck driver who lives with his wife in the West Capitol Avenue area of West Sacramento. This November, for the second time, he will be trying to earn a spot on the Washington Unified School District Board of Trustees.

What’s driving him?

“I want to get one person off the board,” he mentioned. “I’m not going to name any names. I want to put new faces on the board. I’d like to see three new faces this time around – whether it’s me or not doesn’t matter.”

WALT BOWMAN: retired truck driver wants to change up West Sacramento's school board (News-Ledger photo)

Bowman is one of a handful of challengers joining incumbents David Westin and Mary Leland in pursuing three available seats on the school board. His own two kids are grown, but he became angry when the board made moves to close the charter school that two of his  granddaughters were attending. That school, the West Sacramento Early College Prep Charter School, has been deemed to be underperforming.

“They wanted to close that school,” Bowman told the News-Ledger last week. That started me getting mad, and my daughter said, ‘instead of getting mad, why don’t you run?’”

“I like charter schools,” he added. “I’m for it. If I’m on the board, every time it comes up, I’m going to vote for it. They’re an alternative education – some kids don’t fit in well at the regular schools, for one reason or another.”

Bowman has another grandchild at Stonegate Elementary. He has lived in New Mexico and in the Bay Area, and he spent a year at Chabot College in Hayward before his career in long-haul and local trucking.

How does he think the current board is doing – aside from the charter school issue?

“Overall, they might be doing OK,” Bowman allowed.

How about the district’s finances in this era of state-budget cuts?

“I feel they have the money,” said Bowman. “Like everybody else, they say ‘oh, we don’t have the money.’ But if they don’t have the money, how are they paying the teachers?”

  Student test scores have gone up in the past two years. Is that important?

“These people on the board now make a big deal of that,” he answered. “But they’re not in there taking that test. They’re not in the classrooms teaching. Yet they’re saying, ‘we got the test scores up.’ No, they didn’t.”

What does Bowman think of the quality of WUSD’s schools?

“They’re probably doing okay,” he answered, “but the schools on this side of the town (in the north) are kind of overlooked. I don’t think they give the schools on this side of town a fair shake.”

What big challenges does he see in the district?

“They say it’s money, but another thing is that there’s a high drop-out rate at the high school,” answered Bowman. “That’s going to be a big problem to fix. We should hire high-end mental health counselors and bring them in here. We can sit them down and get inside these kids’ heads and figure out what’s going on. They’re going to say it’s going to cost the district money. But, well. . . .”

Does Bowman have other ideas for improving the district?

“Probably some of these kids need a lot of help. Like counselors, or some kind of aides to help these kids.”

“If politicians would keep their noses out of it, and let the schools teach, the students would be better off.”

West Sacramento voters elect their school board (and their city council) “at large,” meaning there is one group of candidates voted on by people from every neighborhood. Bowman would like to see future school board voting done by districts, to help the northern part of town get more consistent representation.

“If we go by district, everyone will have a fair chance,” he explained. “You’re going to have a mix of people from Bryte, Broderick, (the central business district) and so on. You’d get a cross-section of people on there. Things would get done.”

What will Bowman do if elected?

“If I get in there, I will try to get the buses back,” he responded. The district – reacting to budget cuts – has cut a lot of its school bus service recently.

Bowman said he will not be spending a lot on his campaign, because “I don’t like to go out and ask for money.”

“I’m not backed by anybody (on the board or city council) and I don’t belong to this group or that group. But I’m going to give it a shot.”

  You can support local journalism, support this website, and see all the News-Ledger’s articles every week! Subscribe to the News-Ledge newspaper. It’s only $20 per year within West Sacramento – once a week, delivered to your mailbox.

  You can even try it for free for two months if you live in West Sacramento. Just send your name and mailing address to FreeTrial@news-ledger.com (offer open to new subscribers in West Sacramento ZIP codes 95691 & 95605).

Copyright News-Ledger 2012

Running for school board: Alicia Cruz


  In every local election cycle, the West Sacramento News-Ledger invites every candidate to sit-down for a published interview. Below is the first of the 2012 interviews, in which the newspaper talked with Alicia Cruz, one of the challengers running for a seat on the local school board on the November 6 ballot.

  Subscribers to the newspaper see these interviews immediately as they’re published. But as a community service, the News-Ledger will put each interview online at this site as election day draws closer. We hope this helps you get to better know the folks who are looking for your vote for city council and school board.

ALICIA CRUZ: president of an elementary school PTA is running for school board (News-Ledger photo)

By Steve Marschke
News-Ledger Editor

“Two years ago, I thought about running for school board,” said Alicia Cruz, a 43-year old resident of West Sacramento’s north. “I made it a point to attend board meetings regularly, and I’ve been educating myself. Now I feel I’m ready.”

Cruz has lived most of her life in West Sacramento.

“I graduated from River City,” she told the News-Ledger. “I went to a lot of tech colleges – I have a paralegal degree from Humphrey Law School – and in 2010, I graduated from Cordon Bleu.” That school provides training for cooks.
Cruz is now a clerk at Sacramento Superior Court. She’s married, with a daughter who graduated from Woodland High and a son now at Riverbank Elementary in WUSD.

She’s president of the PTA at Riverbank, and has also coached youth basketball, been a Girl Scout leader, and chaired Riverbank’s annual Harvest Festival and the recent Multicultural Fair in West Sacramento. Cruz is a board member of BBCAN, the Bryte & Broderick Community Action Network, which is organized to support West Sacramento’s northern neighborhoods.

“I’m the only one (of the candidates) representing Broderick and Bryte,” commented Cruz. “I’m also the only Latina woman. I feel like West Sacramento has been separated – Broderick and Bryte from Southport – and I’m trying to lessen that separation. I won’t just be talking on behalf of one school, I’ll be talking on behalf of all the schools.”

Cruz feels the current board “works well together, and they get things done.”

“But I look on the board as kind of like a jury. I feel like, right now, they all have the same life experiences. You should have people like myself along with all the business people and financial people.”

Like other school districts hit hard by the state’s budget trouble, WUSD is suffering.

“I think (WUSD) is better managed than most,” said Cruz. “But are we safe? I don’t think so. We’ve lost school transportation – on our side (of town), there are no buses. There’s no tutoring. Maybe I can find a company to come in and do no-cost or low-cost tutoring.”

  Student test scores are up in the past couple of years (new API scores are due out soon).

“The way they’re looking at it is (test score gains) bring in money for the district,” said Cruz. “I don’t think they’re looking at it as to how it helps the students. At my son’s school, scores are up, but I don’t think that’s the whole picture. Is that the whole school or just 20 kids whose scores went up?”

Teachers shouldn’t directly be graded on the test scores of their charges, she said.

“I think it’s just one thing. You have to look at the child’s whole learning. I’m really big on parental help, not just leaving it to the teacher.”

Overall, the district is improving, but slowly:

“They are getting better, but they’re crawling,” she said. “And I truly feel that the City of West Sacramento and the school district are not friends. I think that if they had a better relationship, they could make good things happen.”

How does Cruz feel about charter schools?

“I think what we have right now is enough,” she said. “I think we need to focus more on what’s happening in public schools.”

A couple of the candidate’s pet concerns are school attendance and obesity in children.

“Get the kids to school regularly,” she opined. “My other issue is obesity in the schools. I think if we can keep the extracurricular activities in the schools, it will help keep kids healthy and keep them coming to school more often. I think the kids need to have better nutrition offered to them (on campus) and also be educated on it.”

“Another big pet peeve is getting those kids to wear bike helmets – I may plan a surprise day, and give out gift certificates to all the kids I see using one.”

If more money becomes available to WUSD, where would Cruz like to spend it?

“First and foremost, I’d like to see (bus) transportation come back,” she said. “I think there should be stricter guidelines if it does come back. I’ve seen parents who could take their kids to school just drop their kids off at the bus stop.”

Cruz also laments a lack of preparation among kids entering high school.

“In 6th through 8th grades, there are no counselors,” she commented. “There should be more concern for our 6th through 8th graders about getting them prepared for high school. The word now is that they don’t care. Then when they get to high school, they’re not ready. If there was money, maybe I’d put one counselor in each (elementary) school.”

Cruz said that current board member David Westin recruited her, and retiring board member Teresa Blackmer is mentoring her for the board. [Editor’s note: Cruz also said she had also been endorsed by board member Adam Menke, but later said that claim had been in error.]

Her ambitions as a trustee would be realistic:

“I don’t think I can fix anything myself,” said Cruz. “I want to be part of creating solutions. I want to be part of educating parents. I’m looking at students themselves, as well as at the teachers and at the schools.”

  You can support local journalism, support this website, and see all the News-Ledger’s articles every week! Subscribe to the News-Ledge newspaper. It’s only $20 per year within West Sacramento – once a week, delivered to your mailbox.

  You can even try it for free for two months if you live in West Sacramento. Just send your name and mailing address to FreeTrial@news-ledger.com (offer open to new subscribers in West Sacramento ZIP codes 95691 & 95605).

Copyright News-Ledger 2012

Bagdazian joins WS school board


By Steve Marschke
News-Ledger Editor

West Sacramento’s school board on Wednesday interviewed a number of candidates to fill the board seat vacated by Sandra Vargas.

After a round of questions, the board voted 4-0 to ask Elizabeth Bagdazian to serve the final two-years-plus of that school board term.

“I’ve been involved (in the community) on a number of levels for many years,” Bagdazian later told the News-Ledger. “I’ve been participating in numerous programs. My daughter is 22 now and graduated in 2008 from here. I am in a place now where I felt I could table some of my other projects and make more of a direct impact.”

  Herself a graduate of River City High School in 1979, Bagdazian has been a volunteer in the county library’s adult literacy program and a member of the local chapter of the Soroptimist International women’s service organization.

She is a government relations policy analyst for a private company that works in government relations and lobbying.

On what does Bagdazian hope to focus on as a member of the Washington Unified School District Board of Trustees?

“I’m pretty big on literacy and language arts,” she answered. “I think right now what’s on everyone’s mind are the ballot measures (seeking to raise tax revenues to help fund California’s schools). If they fail, we’re looking at some pretty hard choices in the district.”

How has the board been doing lately?

“I think, for the most part, they’re effective,” said Bagdazian. “The district has made some pretty good strides with API (student test scores), that’s undeniable.”

Bagdazian currently has a couple of relatives going to school in WUSD; one nephew at River City High School and another at Bridgeway Island Elementary. She lives in central West Sacramento.

  Yes, you can support local journalism, support this website, and see all the News-Ledger’s articles every week! Subscribe to the News-Ledge newspaper. It’s only $20 per year within West Sacramento – once a week, delivered to your mailbox.

  You can even try it for free for two months if you live in West Sacramento. Just send your name and mailing address to FreeTrial@news-ledger.com (offer open to new subscribers in West Sacramento ZIP codes 95691 & 95605).

Copyright News-Ledger 2012

Final candidates for West Sac’s ballot:


EDITOR’S NOTE: The extended deadline for new people to enter the school board race passed without any new candidates signing up. So the list of candidates for West Sacramento’s city and school board elections we published below on Aug. 15 is now final and complete — with the exception that Nathan Eckler, who filed to run for school board, has withdrawn his candidacy.

The deadline has closed for candidates to file for election to the West Sacramento city council or to the mayor’s seat on the November 6 ballot. And while there will be only one new challenger in those races, he does pack some punch.

Oleg Maskaev, a resident of the Southport area, will challenge city council incumbents Bill Kristoff and Oscar Villegas for one of the two available four-year terms. Maskaev is a former WBC heavyweight boxing champ.

  Mayor Christopher Cabaldon will not see a challenger this year as he seeks election to another two-year term.

Things are more crowded and less final in the race for one of three available seats on the school board.

Incumbents David Westin and Mary Leland have filed for re-election, but current board president Teresa Blackmer did not.

As of yesterday morning (Aug. 14), there were eight challengers on board for the race. Here are their names and their self-described ballot designations:

Coby Pizzotti, a “parent/legislative advocate”; Alicia Cruz, a “parent/community volunteer”; Katie Villegas, “Children’s Alliance Director”; Walt R. Bowman, “retired truck driver”; Nate Eckler (no designation yet given) [application later withdrawn]; Tamera Russel, “educator/parent”; Rene L. Guerrero, “community organizer”; and Roy Sianez, “parent/legislative director.”

Because one of the incumbents did not file for reelection, the deadline for challengers to file was automatically extended to today (Aug. 15). So this list of school board candidates is not necessarily final.

A fourth seat on the board of trustees for Washington Unified School district is also in play. Because board member Sandra Vargas has submitted her resignation effective Aug. 31, the board is accepting applications from people interested in being appointed by the board to fill her seat for the remaining two years of her four-year term.

The resignation came too late to allow the vacancy to be added to the November ballot as a matter of routine.

  Yes, you can support local journalism, support this website, and see all the News-Ledger’s articles every week! Subscribe to the News-Ledge newspaper. It’s only $20 per year within West Sacramento – once a week, delivered to your mailbox.

  You can even try it for free for two months if you live in West Sacramento. Just send your name and mailing address to FreeTrial@news-ledger.com (offer open to new subscribers in West Sacramento ZIP codes 95691 & 95605).

Copyright News-Ledger 2012