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King bows out of Hart race

Posted: July 9, 2009 9:48 p.m.
Updated: July 10, 2009 4:55 a.m.
Paul Strickland Paul Strickland
Paul Strickland
Dennis King Dennis King
Dennis King

The Hart district school board will see at least two new faces next year as the second of three would-be incumbents announced Thursday he would not seek re-election.

“I think it’s time for somebody else to have a turn,” Dennis King said Thursday.

King, who is wrapping up his fifth term on the William S. Hart Union High School District, endorsed Newhall School District board members Suzan Solomon and Bob Jensen, along with Paul Strickland — the only sitting board member who is seeking reelection.

Previously, board member Patricia Hanrion, currently serving her fourth term, announced she wouldn’t run again and named Solomon, also a Newhall School District board member, as her chosen successor.

The only other announced candidate for the three seats is local businessman Joe Messina. Filing to run for the November election opens Monday.

“I truly believe you need people with experience on that board,” Strickland said Thursday. “We’re going through some difficult economic times and times of great change.”

The district encompasses all public junior high and senior high schools in the Santa Clarita Valley.

Gloria Mercado-Fortine and Steve Sturgeon will round out the five-member school board next year.

They were re-elected in 2008 on a promise of transparency with Measure SA funds, a $300 million school bond measure that won approval at the same time Mercado-Fortine and Sturgeon retained their seats.

During the contentious election, Messina challenged the school board for putting Measure SA on the ballot, saying the district wasn’t sufficiently open with its handling of previous bond measures.

Messina later supported the measure, saying the district deserved another chance. Better oversight of public funds is a recurring theme of his candidacy.

Earlier this week Messina announced he had raised nearly $15,000 for his campaign.

Would-be school board members have until Aug. 7 to file their declarations of candidacy with the Los Angeles County Registrar for the Nov. 3 election.

Strickland said his priority, if re-elected, will be to build a much-needed high school to serve Castaic, as well as constructing performing arts centers for Saugus and Canyon high schools.

“I really believe I’m a good problem solver. I’m a good listener. I really believe I have the ability to make decisions which will effect the district in a positive way,” he said.

Strickland also factored in the Santa Clarita Valley’s strong public schools in his decision to run again.

“The thing that has always inspired me to be part of that is because we have such a great school district right here and so close to a major metropolitan city — Los Angeles,” Strickland said.

Strickland is currently serving his second term for the Hart district. He served as a board member for the Sulphur Springs School District before.

“I’ve been privy to the progress of the business of the district and the maintenance of the district,” he said.

Strickland has served on the city’s Cultural Arts Advisory and Open Space committees.

If a declaration of candidacy for an incumbent is not filed by Aug. 7, candidates other than the incumbent can file a declaration of candidacy until Aug. 12, according to the county registrar.



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