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Rush to run for Newhall School District

With two incumbents out, race heats up for vacant board seats

Posted: July 31, 2009 9:59 p.m.
Updated: August 1, 2009 4:30 a.m.
With two Newhall School District incumbents out of the race, a fresh set of candidates, including a former board member, hope to snag one of three open seats and guide the district through budget cuts ahead.

“I think the educational issues are going to be more critical at the elementary level,” said Phil Ellis, a former Newhall School District board member.

Ellis was elected to the school board in 1995 and moved on to the William S. Hart Union High School District board after one year.

He chairs the city’s Newhall Redevelopment Committee and the Hart district’s Measure V Oversight Committee.

While board members Steve Tannehill, Bob Jensen and Michael McGrath all have terms that expire Nov. 3, McGrath is the only incumbent seeking re-election.

Valencia resident McGrath, who is finishing his first term and currently serves as board president, wasn’t going to run for re-election at first.

But he changed his mind after Jensen and Tannehill said they were out of the race.

“Using the experience of the last four years, it gives me an advantage to work with the other board members and make the best decisions we can, although they’re going to be difficult ones,” McGrath said.

Jensen is in the running for a seat on the William S. Hart Union High School District board.

Suzan Solomon, who has two years left as a Newhall School District board member, has also joined the race for one of three Hart district governing board seats.

Tannehill said he decided not to seek re-election because his youngest child has moved on to junior high school.

“I feel like boards are best served by an influx of new blood every eight to 12 years,” he said. “It’s nice to have board members (with kids) in the school. That creates a special bond and special commitment.”

Tannehill, who in March was named director of the Small Business Development Center at College of the Canyons, said he has no plans to run for another school board.

“It’s time for me to complete my school board career,” he said.

Christy Smith, of Valencia, who ran for a seat on the Newhall school board two years ago, intends to run again in the November election.

“The number one issue in the next couple of years is the budget,” she said, adding that she wants to make sure the district maintains programs and keeps cuts away from the classroom.

Smith said she worked as a policy analyst for the U.S. Department of Education during the Clinton administration.

Scott Miller, of Valencia, will run as a first-time candidate.

“I know there’s a lot of challenges out there in terms of finances,” Miller said.

Michelle Antaloczy, of Stevenson Ranch, has pulled papers to run, while Craig Duswalt, of Valencia, has declared his intent to run, according to the Los Angeles County Registrar’s Office.

Antaloczy and Duswalt did not return calls Friday.

Local residents interested in running for any Santa Clarita Valley school boards have until Friday to file papers with the Los Angeles County Registrar.


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