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School board elections are heating up in Contra Costa County

By Theresa Harrington
Saturday, September 22nd, 2012 at 12:19 pm in Education, Mt. Diablo school district, West Contra Costa school district.

Election time means one thing for Contra Costa Times reporters: lots of candidate forums to let the public know about.

For candidates in Mt. Diablo, West Contra Costa and other school districts, the CCTV forum moderated by political reporter Lisa Vorderbrueggen is the kickoff for election season.

I sat in on the MDUSD and WCCUSD forums Thursday, where candidates sounded off on a variety of issues.

In the Mt. Diablo race, incumbent Sherry Whitmarsh faced challengers Brian Lawrence, Debra Mason and Barbara Oaks in a discussion that touched on Propositions 30 and 38, valuing district staff, resolving friction on the board, reigning in health and pension costs, and strategic planning. Candidate Ernie DeTrinidad was unable to attend the taped forum and incumbent Gary Eberhart is not seeking re-election in the race for two open seats.

In back-to-back tapings, all four West Contra Costa board candidates were on the hot seats next. They included incumbent Antonio Medrano and challengers Robert Studdiford, Randy Enos and Todd Groves, who traded opinions about Propositions 30 and 38, discontent in Hercules and Pinole, the district’s November parcel tax and bond measure, and pension and health care reform. Incumbent Tony Thurmond is not seeking re-election in this race for two seats.

You can catch the Mt. Diablo forum on CCTV Channel 27 at 9:30 p.m. Oct. 4, 7 p.m. Oct. 7, 9:30 p.m. Oct. 14, 7 p.m. Oct. 21, 9:30 p.m. Oct. 28, 7 p.m. Oct. 30 and 7 p.m. Nov. 4.

The West Contra Costa forum will air on KRCT Channel 28 at 8 p.m. Oct. 3, 1 p.m. Oct. 5, 10 p.m. Oct. 9, 9 p.m. Oct. 13, 10 a.m. And 6 p.m. Oct. 14, noon Oct. 16, 10 a.m. Oct. 22, 1 p.m. Oct. 26, 9 p.m. Oct. 29, 8:30 p.m. Nov. 2, 10 p.m. Nov. 3, 1 p.m. Nov. 5, and 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. Nov. 6.

In addition, both forums — along with forums for most other school boards and city councils in the county — will be archived at

Both the Mt. Diablo and West Contra Costa candidates are also slated to participate in the following forums:

Mt. Diablo:

— The district’s special education Community Advisory Committee will host a Candidates’ Question and Answer Panel from 6-7 p.m. Oct. 2 in the district office at 1936 Carlotta Drive in Concord.

The candidates will be asked questions that are important to special education selected in advance, but the candidates will hear them for the first time that evening. Each candidate will be asked the same question and will have 90 seconds to respond. It is open to the public and will be followed by the committee meeting at 7 p.m.

— The Pleasant Hill Education Commission will host a forum from 7-9 p.m. Oct. 18 in the Pleasant Hill City Council chamber at 100 Gregory Lane in Pleasant Hill. Email to submit a question. The forum will be broadcast after the event on Comcast Channel 28, ATT U-Verse Channel 99 and Astound Channel 29.

West Contra Costa:

— The PTAs of Kensington, Hilltop, Madera, Harding, Portola and Mira Vista elementary schools are hosting a forum from 6:30-8 p.m. Monday in the Harding Elementary Auditorium at 7230 Fairmount Avenue in El Cerrito. Candidates for school board will answer questions from the public. To submit questions, email

The League of Women Voters will sponsor two additional school board candidate forums:

— From 6:30-8 p.m. Oct. 11 in the El Cerrito High School cafeteria at 540 Ashbury Avenue in El Cerrito; and
– from 6:30-8 p.m. Oct. 16 in the Murphy Elementary School multipurpose room at 4350 Valley View Road in Richmond.

The League of Women Voters, West Contra Costa Chapter will moderate and keep time for these forums. More information is available by contacting the League of Women Voters, West Contra Costa Chapter at 510-525-4962.

What questions would you like the candidates to answer?

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9 Responses to “School board elections are heating up in Contra Costa County”

  1. Carolyn Says:

    Candidate for WCCUSD School Board is Todd Groves, not Todd Glover. Kindly correct the spelling error in your article. Many thanks.

  2. Cynthia Leimbach Says:

    What about John Swett School board?

  3. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Cynthia: In the John Swett district, incumbents Norma Jean Cole-Clerici, James Delgadillo and Jerrold M Parsons are facing challenger Virginia Silver-Rimbach in a race for three open seats. I will find out Monday if there was a CCTV forum for this race.
    CCTV forums for the Moraga, Liberty and Oakley school district were canceled because most of the candidates were unable to attend.
    Here is a link to CCTV’s program guide:
    Unfortunately, however, it doesn’t yet have the candidate forums listed.

  4. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I have made the correction in my blog post. Sorry, that was a typo.

  5. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Cynthia: Unfortunately, there was no CCTV forum because there was a limited amount of airtime and smaller districts, such as John Swett, were not able to be included.
    However, if you or anyone else knows of other candidate forums, please let me know so I can post them in my blog.

  6. Kathy Mc Says:

    Will you be posting a link to the video archives of the debate? Thanks.

  7. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Yes. Lisa V. tells me they probably won’t be completely uploaded for a couple of days. But, they’re working on it.
    Also, I’m hoping to do a more comprehensive blog post about the MDUSD and WCCUSD CCTV forums. In addition, I’m writing election preview stories for both races that will run the first week of October.
    And, I’m now uploading video from MDEA’s Saturday press conference to my YouTube/tunedtotheresa account. The clips include people who know Brian Lawrence and Barbara Oaks speaking about why they support them, in addition to comments from Lawrence and Oaks.
    I will invite the other candidates to make short videotaped comments as well, which I could post on my blog.

  8. Theresa Harrington Says:

    In the WCCUSD race, the El Cerrito Democratic Club only endorsed Todd Groves:

  9. Theresa Harrington Says:

    I have just received word that Ernie DeTrinidad is dropping out of the MDUSD race and throwing his support behind Debra Mason and Barbara Oaks. Will post his statement shortly.

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