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More about Mt. Diablo district board race

By Theresa Harrington

Due to limited space in the Contra Costa Times, I will provide additional information about the Mt. Diablo school board candidates in my blog in individual posts.

The candidates are incumbent Linda Mayo, attorney Jeff Adams, retired teacher Lynne Dennler, educator and former district administrator Cheryl Hansen, technology executive Brian Lawrence, retired CFO Roy Larkin and retired real estate appraiser Jan Trezise.

The posts will be based on a special education candidates’ forum I attended Oct. 4, the Pleasant Hill candidates’ forum on Oct. 20, ballot statements, phone interviews, e-mails and candidates’ promotional materials.

In addition, I will post links to other sites with candidate information.

A candidate forum videotaped at CCTV studios will be broadcast on Walnut Creek Comcast Channel 28, Rossmoor Channel 26, Astound Channel 29 and AT&T Channel 99 at 7:30 p.m. tonight and at 10 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. Monday.
It is also posted here:

To see the candidate forum held Oct. 20 at Pleasant Hill City Hall, visit

Here is information the candidates provided to the district’s special education Community Advisory Committee blog:

“Smart Voter” information is here:

Who are you supporting and why?

Posted on Friday, October 29th, 2010
Under: Education, Election, Mt. Diablo school district, Theresa Harrington | No Comments »

Vandals strike Pittsburg school board candidate signs

By Theresa Harrington

Pittsburg teachers union members who posted campaign signs last week for school board candidates were unpleasantly surprised Saturday night when about 20 of them were sliced up, apparently with a boxcutter.

The signs were in support of candidates George Miller, Duane Smith, Vince Ferrante and William Wong. Teachers and two candidates filed police reports, but they’re unsure whether officers are investigating the incidents, said Steve Longley, co-chair of the Pittsburg Education Association political action committee (PAC).

“The signs came out of the PAC,” Longley said. “Teachers donate a dollar from their paycheck if they choose to, so this is all money out of teachers’ pockets.”

Longley said no other signs were targeted.

“We feel that somone out there is interfering wih the democratic process,” he said. “No one else’s sign was touched. It was just our candidates.”

The three candidates not endorsed by teachers are Pergy McGee Jr., Joseph Arenivar and Robert Bellici.

Longley said teachers plan to put up more signs before the election, but they may leave up a few of the vandalized signs as a symbol of the apparent animosity involved.

“We don’t intend to be intimidated,” he said. “We have about three activities a week planned. We’ll continue to go door to door and phone bank and put signs up till Nov. 2.”

Anyone with information about the vandalism can call the Pittsburg police or county sheriff’s department at 646-6441.

Posted on Tuesday, October 19th, 2010
Under: Education, Election, Pittsburg, Theresa Harrington | No Comments »

All but seven Contra Costa superintendents endorse Aceves

By Theresa Harrington

Thirteen of 20 Contra Costa County school superintendents have endorsed Larry Aceves in the race for state Superintendent of Public Instruction.

This is a bit surprising, since his opponent is state Assemblyman Tom Torlakson, D-Antioch, a Contra Costa County legislator and Mt. Diablo school district teacher on leave.

“Education leaders agree—it is time that we had an experienced superintendent running our schools,” said Larry Aceves in a news release. “I’m honored that so many local leaders are supporting my campaign.”

Here are the county superintendents backing Aceves:
John Stockton, Acalanes Union High School District
Merrill Grant, Brentwood Union School District
Ken Jacopetti, Byron Union School District
Mike McLaughlin, John Swett Unified School District
Fred Brill, Lafayette School District
Jerry Glenn, Liberty Union High School District
Rami Muth, Martinez Unified School District
Bruce Burns, Moraga School District
Rick Rogers, Oakley Elementary Union School District
Joe Jaconette, Orinda Union School District
Steve Enoch, San Ramon Unified School District
Patty Wool, Walnut Creek School District
Joe Ovick, Contra Costa County Superintendent of Schools

Superintendents not listed are:
Donald Gill, Antioch
David Doty, Canyon
Theresa Estrada, Knightsen
Steven Lawrence, Mt. Diablo
Linda Rondeaux, Pittsburg
Bruce Harter, West Contra Costa
Helen Benjamin, Contra Costa Community College District

Aceves began his education career in 1974 as a kindergarten teacher at Bayside Elementary School in San Diego. He later went on to serve as a principal at Imperial Beach Elementary School in San Diego and as a superintendent Alum Rock and Franklin-McKinley school districts in San Jose.

Torlakson has received endorsements from several organizations including the California Democratic Party, California Federation of Teachers, California Teachers Association, California School Employees Association, California Faculty Association, California Association of Bilingual Educators PAC and the California Community College Independents.

He began his political career on the Antioch City Council, then was elected to the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors, and the California State Senate and State Assembly.

Posted on Thursday, September 9th, 2010
Under: Education, Election | 11 Comments »

No teachers’ union endorsements in MDUSD trustee race

By Theresa Harrington

In an unexpected move, the Mt. Diablo Education Association teachers’ union has decided not to endorse any candidate in the November election, which includes seven candidates vying for three open seats.

The candidates are: incumbent Linda Mayo, attorney Jeffrey Adams, retired CFO Roy Larkin, retired teacher Lynne Dennler, county education trainer Cheryl Hansen, technology executive Brian Lawrence and retired real estate appraiser Jan Treizise (who has announced she will not actively campaign for the seat).

Incumbents Dick Allen and Paul Strange have decided not to seek re-election.

Teachers’ union representatives interviewed the candiates last month. Following delilberations, union President Michael Langley sent me the following statement:

“After reviewing the written questionnaires of all seven school board candidates, and conducting interviews on Monday night, 30 August, the interview panel recommended that the Executive Board not bring to the Representative Assembly an endorsement of any candidate.
Each candidate had some positive attributes. There was a consensus on the panel that no single candidate had a track record in this unusual fiscal environment that indicated a firm commitment to addressing the needs of our membership in guiding the district to a path of improved educational opportunities for our students.
We hope to continue to work with all school board members in returning the educational opportunities so well deserved by this community. We will renew our focus on statewide issues that will facilitate a return to the highest quality educational experience.”

This marks a huge shift from the 2008 board election, when the union heavily backed trustee Gary Eberhart and newcomer Sherry Whitmarsh, who ran as a slate against then-board President April Treece and Adams (who were running independent of each other). Eberhart and Whitmarsh won.

Two years ago, Mayo was viewed as part of the board majority with Treece and Allen. The union wanted to overturn that majority in part to oust then-Superintendent Gary McHenry and to usher in new leadership, expecting to end contentious contract negotiations.

But, as the state budget worsened, the new board did not approve the teachers’ union contract, as educators hoped they would. Now, the district is pushing for furlough days and reduced benefits at the negotiating table to balance its budget.

Mark York, executive director of the association, said the union expects to sunshine its contract proposal Sept. 14.

How do you think the union’s decision not to endorse any candidates will affect the election?

Posted on Wednesday, September 8th, 2010
Under: Education, Election, Mt. Diablo school district, Theresa Harrington | 12 Comments »