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Jonathan Kraut: Picking three of five for Hart board

Democratic Voices

Posted: September 28, 2009 9:22 p.m.
Updated: September 29, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 
The race for the William S. Hart Union High School District board is interesting because all five candidates for the three open seats are Republican. This means politics is not a factor in this race.

Unfortunately, political polarization has skewed American judgment.

While some undeserving candidates are elected, a few deserving candidates are defeated simply because of their political affiliation.

Our local heroes include Assemblyman Cameron Smyth, who, working from the heart, has undertaken a worthy but often forgotten cause of combating domestic violence; and Michael Cruz and Maria Gutzeit, both running for the Newhall County Water Board.

Mike is a bottom-line guy whose approach is simple: 1) identify the problem, 2) if our solution does not solve the problem, go over it again, and 3) this will solve the problem - let's do it.

Maria, an environmental engineer, governs through a methodical, almost scientific approach and, unflustered by external pressures, she follows the data.

Three approaches, all effective. It takes many views to support effective government.

I sent out questions by e-mail to all five Hart board candidates to test their responsiveness.

Paul Strickland and Joe Messina e-mailed timely responses. Linda Valdes and Susan Solomon found time to meet face-to-face. I did not hear from Bob Jenson.

So please review the candidates' responses and help select our newest champions of education.

Question 1: List two positions you previously held in education (besides incumbency) that make you uniquely qualified to earn a vote.

Messina: vice president, SCV Education Foundation; member SCV Youth Project.

Solomon: Ten-year member, Newhall School Board; vice president of education, California PTA.

Strickland: "Incumbency is quite important - it signifies the community supports your efforts. I am the only incumbent on the ballot."

Valdes: chairperson, Measure SA Committee; president, SCV Scholarship Foundation.

Question 2: Name two accomplishments regarding education that indicate how capable you are to care for and represent our children and teachers.

Messina: "I was active in advocating a portal and a way for our young men and women and our teachers so they could track their career choices ... A Measure V committee member, I fought very hard for more stringent oversight of how funds were being used."

Solomon: "(In my) 10 years on the Newhall School Board we have not eliminated teaching positions due to budget cuts ... I lead the local campaign to fight a multi-track instructional program that would compromise the quality of family life."

Strickland: "I am proud to have served on a board that hired Jaime Castellanos, who led our district to achieve some of the highest test scores in the state. I was one of the two board members on the Measure SA Committee."

Valdes: "I train the trainers for the gifted and talented education (GATE). As a teacher with project responsibility, I created ‘Environmental Awareness' and ‘Career Day' (events) at my elementary school."

Question 3: Describe how education can reshape/improve American society.

Messina: "Get back to basics, teach our math and English skills, help make our children more competitive in the global environment."

Solomon: "Education teaches our children to be responsible, caring citizens. Education is the cornerstone of the free world."

Strickland: "Public education is the key in determining the course of our state and nation. Student success leads the way to our future."

Valdes: "Effective teaching includes character education, the courage to stand up and confidence."

Question 4: Give one example in education that demonstrates how your efforts directly lead toward fiscally responsible decisions.

Messina: "I led the march against the Measure SA campaign. I was able to force the district to put safeguards in place."

Solomon: "I collaborate with teachers to find out what works and doesn't, then make any cuts as far away from the classroom as possible."

Strickland: "I helped lead the way in making budgetary decisions that prevented the Hart district from laying off employees."

Valdes: "With community and local business support, we are able to host special events at little or no cost to our school district."

Question 5: Demonstrate you are endorsed by elected officials of multiple political parties.

Messina: He could not.

Solomon: She says she is.

Strickland: He could not.

Valdes: She could not.

I hope you will agree there is no more noble an endeavor than to support the education and development of our youth. Make your vote count in November.

Jonathan Kraut is a Fair Oaks Ranch resident and serves in the Democratic Club of the SCV, the SCV Human Relations Forum and the SCV Interfaith Council. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal or other organizations. "Democratic Voices" appears Tuesdays in The Signal and rotates among local Democratic writers.

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