Tag Archives: school board

Feb. 19 is last day to register

FROM THE NEWS-LEDGER —

West Sacramento voters will choose a new school board member at a special election on March 5.

Last day to register to vote in time for the Washington Unified School District race is Feb. 19. You must be 18, a County of Yolo resident at least 15 days before the resident, a U.S. citizen, and you must complete a registration affidavit. For information, contact the Yolo County Elections Department, 625 Court St., Room B05, Woodland, CA 95695, or call (530) 666-8133 or 1-800-649-9943.

The News-Ledger traditionally invites each candidate to sit down for an interview to be published in the newspaper. Those interviews began publishing in the Jan. 23 News-Ledger and will continue until approximately Feb. 20. For information on subscribing to the News-Ledger, call (916) 371-8030.

Copyright News-Ledger 2013

Five compete for open seat

NEWS-LEDGER — JAN 9, 2013 —

Former board member David Westin and temporary member Elizabeth Bagdazian are not among the candidates —

LINH NGUYEN: business owner from Southport seeks a seat on the Washington Unified School District board of trustees (courtesy photo)

By Steve Marschke
News-Ledger Editor

Five candidates have signed up for West Sacramento’s special school board election on March 5.  The all-mail ballot will ask voters to pick one person to fill the remaining term – almost two years – of former board member Sandra Vargas.

[adrotate group=”9″]  Vargas resigned in the fall. Her remaining colleagues appointed Elizabeth Bagdazian to fill the slot, but a group of citizens successfully petitioned to overturn that appointment and force the special vote.

Neither Bagdazian nor David Westin, a former school board member narrowly voted out of office in November, are running for the vacancy.

The News-Ledger this week caught up with several of the candidates.

NICHOLAS TURNEY: former college instructor, now a parent & homemaker, is running for a school board seat in West Sacramento (courtesy photo)

The five candidates are:

Nicholas Scott Turney, a self-described parent/homemaker who lives on Watercourse Lane in northern West Sacramento.

Katherine R. Gales, reported as an “education executive assistant” and who lives on Touchstone Place in Southport.

Linh T. Nguyen, who lists himself as a business owner who lives on Huntington Road in Southport.

Sarah Kirby-Gonzalez, self-described as a parent-teacher and who hasn’t listed a street address. Her Facebook page indicates she works as a teacher in Folsom Cordova Unified School District.

Francisco Castillo, who lists himself as a parent/education advocate and who lives on Ryer Island Street in Southport.

Nicholas Turney, 33, told the News-Ledger he believes that Washington Unified School District “could use a voice more representative of the north area.”

“I’m a former college instructor and I took a leave from teaching to raise our children, so I understand the benefits of having a solid education as a basis for success in the future,” he said. “I’m not affiliated with any board members or civic leaders – I’m a totally independent candidate.”

Turney said he has a kindergarten-age daughter and a son who’s still a toddler.

KATHERINE GALES: works for state education departments, wants to give public service back (courtesy photo)

Katherine Gales, 49, said she has a grandson, two nieces and a nephew of school age.

“I’m running because I have experience and understand education and I’ve been around the block,” she said. “I think everybody should be involved (in public service) at some point in their life doing what they can do. I bring my experience, knowledge and expertise in education to the West Sacramento public schools.”

Gales said she has worked for the state education department for 14 years, and has lived in the city for three. Although she responded to a call for candidates made on Mayor Christopher Cabaldon’s Facebook page, Gales said she has not received the mayor’s endorsement or other political endorsements at this point.

Francisco Castillo, 32, said he was motivated to get involved partly by the experience of having to spend the night in front of Bridgeway Island Elementary School in order to get his child a slot in the kindergarten there.

“I work in a national educational advocacy group called StudentsFirst,” he told the News-Ledger. “I’ve been in West Sacramento about five years.”

His focus includes ensuring preschool access for all children, promoting college and career preparation, and ensuring fiscal responsibility in the district.

FRANCISCO CASTILLO: Professional education advocate, endorsed by mayor & county supervisor (courtesy photo)

“I’m happy to have the endorsements of (new board member) Katie Villegas, Mayor Cabaldon, (Yolo County Supervisor Michael) McGowan, and city councilmen Oscar Villegas and Christ Ledesma,” said Castillo.

Nguyen and Kirby-Gonzalez couldn’t immediately be reached for comment – but the News-Ledger plans to invite all candidates for an in-depth interview before the election.

The website of the local teachers’ union, the Washington Teachers Association, reports that the union has endorsed Kirby-Gonzalez, the teacher.

A sixth candidate filed to run in this race, but withdrew. That was Coby Pizotti, who ran unsuccessfully for one of the seats available in the regular election in November.

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Copyright News-Ledger 2013

EDITORIAL: same problem, different answer

EDITORIAL from the News-Ledger — JAN 9, 2013 —

In March, West Sacramento residents will vote in a special election to fill a vacant seat on the local school board.

The vacancy was already filled once – last fall, when remaining school board members accepted applications and chose West Sacramento’s Liz Bagdazian to fill the seat. But a number of citizens criticized the way this happened. The citizens, backed by Mayor Cabaldon, gathered the needed signatures to nullify this appointment and send the matter to the voters.

One of the main criticisms leveled at the school district was that it kept secret the list of candidates for the open seat, making their names public only at the final selection meeting. The News-Ledger requested the names ahead of the meeting, but the request was denied.

Let’s compare this to how Sacramento City Unified School District handled a similar school board vacancy in the fall:

According to the Sac City district website, applications for their school board vacancy were accepted until November 14. The next day, the board met to review the applications in open session, with “all applications. . . available at the Board meeting for public inspection.”

Next, each applicant was then invited to make a presentation at the board’s December 6 meeting, and time was set aside on Dec. 20 for final presentations, questions from board members, and a final vote by the school board.

In other words, Sac City invited the public to get to know the candidates and offer questions and comments about them. That could have happened here.

[adrotate group=”7″]   Now, WUSD’s top officials are professionals with good intentions and they do a good job on many things. There was no villainy in WUSD’s selection process.

The News-Ledger’s main concerns after the West Sacramento appointment were that WUSD officials seemed to view “transparency” as a secondary goal, aiming (not always successfully) just to meet their bare legal obligations. And they did not seem to understand the state’s public record laws, which say that school district records are almost always “public” records and the district is obligated to help the public get the records it wants.

When, as a governmental entity, you try too hard to keep the public at arm’s length, sometimes it will backfire on you.

It would be better if the good people running WUSD were to consciously adopt a new policy of maximum transparency. They should educate their staff about public requests for information, release school board meeting agendas earlier than the minimum legal deadline whenever possible, and so forth. If the district’s law firm doesn’t understand “public records,” WUSD should get a new law firm.

There should be a “transparency” culture, where the public comes first.  The reward will be more trust and goodwill.

And fewer special elections.

  Do you like what you see here?

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  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 2013

Ballots counted, Westin loses seat

BREAKING NEWS — NEWS-LEDGER ONLINE — Nov 19, 2012 —

By Steve Marschke

News-Ledger Editor

The Yolo County Elections Department has made it through the final 3,000-or-so West Sacramento ballots cast in the November 6 election. The count left local results little changed from the early totals released last week.

As elections officials began counting these absentee and provisional ballots, school board member David Westin was 88 votes short of the winners’ circle last week. The additional ballots didn’t help him.

“The final count has David Westin 108 votes back,” said Tom Stanionis, chief of staff of the elections department.

[adrotate group=”7″] The new count leaves the winners in the Washington Unified School District race unchanged. Challenger Katie Villegas is at the top of the chart with 7,658 votes (24.7%), challenger Alicia Cruz has 6,086 votes (19.6%) and incumbent Mary Leland holds onto the third slot with 5,671 votes (18.3%).

Falling short were Westin (5,563 votes, or 18.0%), Coby Pizotti (2,413 votes, 7.8%), Roy Sianez (1,844 votes, 6.0%) and Walt R. Bowman (1,739 votes, 5.6%).

In the fight for two seats on the West Sacramento City Council, William “Bill” Kristoff ended up with 10,114 votes (45.4%) and Oscar Villegas took the second spot with 9,987 votes (44.8%).

City council challenger Oleg Maskaev fell short, with 2,168 votes, or 9.7%.

Mayor Christopher Cabaldon was unopposed, drawing 12,766 votes.

Total turnout was 15,719 (67.8%) of 23,168 registered voters, reports the elections office. These results, while complete, are unofficial.

  Do you like what you see here?

  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