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Newhall board candidates talk charters, Voting Rights Act

Posted: October 25, 2013 5:06 p.m.
Updated: October 25, 2013 5:06 p.m.
 

SANTA CLARITA - Charter schools and a recent series of California Voting Rights Act lawsuits were among the topics discussed last weekend during a candidate forum for three of the four individuals running for a spot on the Newhall School District board.

Two board incumbents — Phil Ellis and Christy Smith — and challenger Sandra Bull participated in the candidate forum Sunday.

Bull, a former teacher and assistant principal in the Sulphur Springs School District, said her experience would serve her well on the board.

“I know what it takes to run a school, I know what it means to be in a classroom, I’ve been there and I have the experience,” Bull said.

Ellis said he thinks his time on the board, as well as his law background, are both assets moving forward.

“I think my education, my experience in both audit and legal, is very beneficial for a school board member,” Ellis said. “And I think that my track record speaks for itself.”

Smith, who is seeking a second term on the board, also pointed to her experience as a board member and in the fields of education and public policy, including leading the campaign for Measure E — the district’s $60 million bond measure.

“I would like an additional four years on the board to make sure those funds are expended wisely,” she said.
Regarding charter schools, all three said they do not think one would be a fit for the Newhall district, with Bull saying she does not think there is a need for one in the district.

Smith said she is not an advocate for charter schools.

Ellis said he has not seen a charter petition come forward during his time on the board that has reached the standards necessary for approval.

Each of the candidates also expressed reservations about the Voting Rights Act lawsuits that have been filed against the city of Santa Clarita, Santa Clarita Community College District and Sulphur Springs School District.

Each lawsuit alleges that at-large voting systems — in which voters can cast ballots for all board seats, not just one tied to where they live — restrict the ability of minority voters to elect candidates of their choice.

Smith pointed to the fact that the Newhall district, along with other Santa Clarita Valley school districts and the Newhall County Water District, tried to change their election dates to even-numbered years to put them on the same ballot with higher-turnout elections for governor and president.

The higher turnout, Smith said, could help districts avoid Voting Rights Act lawsuits. But the county denied the districts’ proposal earlier this year.

Sunday’s forum was put on by local media groups including The Signal, KHTS AM-1220, College of the Canyons Cougar News and SCVTV, which hosted the forum at its studios in Newhall.

Incumbent Brian Walters, who is also running for re-election in the Newhall district, was unable to attend Sunday’s forum.
The Newhall district board election will be held Nov. 5.

Lmoney@signalscv.com
661-287-5525
On Twitter @LukeMMoney

 

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