State budget cuts. Unstable finances. Excellent educations despite economic woes. The challenges are many for candidates hoping to win seats on Lamorinda's three school boards.
In Moraga, where a decades-old sex abuse scandal has shaken a district already reeling from state government funding and staffing cuts, three candidates are vying for two seats on the governing board. In Lafayette, four candidates are battling it out for a pair of seats being vacated by incumbents Shayne Silva and current board President Stephenie Teichman. And in Orinda, four candidates hope to unseat incumbent Matthew Moran and succeed incumbent Patricia Rudebusch, who has chosen not to run for re-election.
A look at candidate statements reveals much about each hopeful's position. Moraga resident Dexter Louie, currently serving as the town's school board president, is hoping he can continue his 14-year tenure. The physician and parent said he wants to see students become lifelong learners and believes schools need to support students' good health and physical activity.
Challenger Parker Colvin says years of cuts to K-12 funding prove that even some of the most well-supported districts need financial expertise. The public finance underwriter and father of three said in a statement that he's eager to help the district find lasting funding solutions "that will provide teachers and students with needed resources as efficiently as possible."
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In Lafayette, former attorney and community volunteer Nancy Wallace is hoping to provide a "world-class education" to the district's students. Wallace is the mother of two daughters and a son with special needs and has been active in both the general education and special needs communities for years. Attorney Quinlan S. Tom said his primary goal is to listen to the concerns of students, parents and the community and to make decisions "that are the best for our kids." He said that he's long admired the board's "tight fiscal controls" while providing students with "one of the best primary educations in the nation."
Candidate Jean Follmer is also concerned about maintaining the quality of Lafayette's schools. The writer and community volunteer says she believes programs affected by more than $3 million in state budget cuts can be restored through "thoughtful" financial planning and spending. She also said the school district needs to expand programs, including kindergarten offerings and foreign language instruction. A statement from candidate Don Wolff was not available at the county elections office.
In Orinda, mother and educator Bekki Van Voorhis-Gilbert is running on a platform that includes fiscal responsibility and academic excellence during difficult economic times. Incumbent Matthew Moran wants to keep funding away from students and retain "a broad curriculum." Candidate Jason Lurie says he is dedicated to making sure his three children and all of their Orinda Unified School District peers "receive the same high quality education that Orinda's public schools have delivered for decades," and Sarah Genn Butler wants to "promote a vision" for educational excellence and 21st century learning.
The general election is Tuesday, Nov. 6.