Patti RasmussenThe SignalPauline HarteRichard RiouxTim WhyteLeon Worden

Shame on us for not running for school board

Patti Rasmussen · August 23, 1997

Suppose they threw an election and nobody came? I don't mean that no one showed up to vote, I mean that no one wanted to run. That seems to be the case with school board elections in the Santa Clarita Valley.

Every couple of years or so, it is time for us to vote into office someone who we feel will best serve the needs of the children in our public school system. I've seen elections where ten to twelve people are running for two seats on a school board.

"Candidates' nights" are set up and they give us, the voting public, a chance to find out if these individuals have any hidden agendas, care only about the school their children attend, or -- and this isn't always a stretch -- if they truly have the best interests of all children in their minds when they sign those candidate applications.

In the Newhall School District, three seats are up for grabs. One incumbent is running, while two trustees decided not to seek re-election. That, technically, leaves two seats open. Two civic-minded individuals applied for those seats, which leaves the school district with no choice but to cancel the election and simply give the positions to these three people.

Sulphur Springs doesn't need an election either. The incumbents are staying and no one is running against them.

Is that the American way? Not really. We should get to know the people who will be sitting in those chairs. Should the districts have canceled the election? Absolutely!

The public schools are on extremely tight budgets. Not a whole bunch of money is thrown their way. And there are lots of children to educate. Every penny that can be saved, should be saved, and if there doesn't seem to be the interest of the voting public to run for public office, why should money be spent on elections?

Castaic and Saugus have elections going, both with five candidates running, incumbents and non-incumbents. The Hart District has three seats open with four people running. And at College of the Canyons, two incumbents have re-filed for their seats, and two newcomers are vying for one of them.

I guess all of this could mean that the voting public is happy with the way things are going in our schools -- but I should say "shame on us."

Shame on us for not have the time, the inclination, the guts to take the bull by the horns and run for something like the school board. It takes a pretty selfless individual to give, at the very least, once or twice a week to the children of our valley. But as long as I'm passing out the shame, I would have to throw it right back at myself. Because I didn't want to do it either.

It's not that I don't have the time (I don't). It isn't because I don't have children in the district (I have two). And it's not that I don't have a personal agenda (I do -- two old auditoriums). It's mainly because I don't think I could do it. I don't think it would be easy for me to think about all those children and their parents. It would be tough.

In the meantime, if you happen to be in one of the districts that is having an election, you should get to know your school board candidates. Organize a candidates' night (and for the sake of those running, try to partner with other schools.) If you are in a district that is not having an election, try to organize a parents' night and introduce the new trustees to your school. I think they'd be interested in hearing what you have to say.

To you, my friend, Sue Neiberger, congratulations. I don't need a candidates' night to know what an excellent school board member you will be. You always think of all the children. And to Steve Tannehill: I don't know you yet, but I will. 'Cause you see, I wouldn't want to run for school board, but I do attend those meetings.

* * *

A side note: I just finished working Hart registration with my friends Fran Whitney and Bonnie Phillips. Bonnie is the ASB secretary at Canyon High and she helps out at Hart registration, while the following week, Fran (the ASB secretary at Hart) helps out at Canyon.

Bonnie is quite the trouper -- she even wears the school's red and black T-shirts while working. You Canyon students make sure to check if Fran dons the green and yellow next week. And Bonnie, I'll remember to get you those flags.

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Patti Rasmussen's commentaries appear in The Signal on Saturdays.

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