( The candidates discussing an issue that doesn't seem to come up much in Simi Valley: Vouchers. The question is more of an ideological litmus test when you consider that this isn't going to be on the agenda of the board. A more pertinent question would be about expanding charter schools or relations with the Ventura County Board of Education. 4 of of the 6 candidates were clearly against vouchers. What questions do you want these candidates to answer?)
I went to the Simi Valley School Board debate tonight at city hall.
First, sorry about getting the time wrong. It was at 5PM. I apologize if I caused anybody to miss it.
On the way in I saw Ray Cruz's bus and van in the parking lot. Here is a photo:
As I got closer I snapped a photo of some Ray Cruz supporters standing outside with his signs:
Inside city hall chambers it was a pretty tame affair. Nothing too unexpected was said from the candidates.
Here is a brief run down of a few statements or ideas from each candidate:
We need new technology. Schools are archaic and look like something out of the 1950's or 1960's. Brad spoke about schools using webgrades ( which some schools do ) and posting homework online ( which some schools do ) as a way of connecting schools and families. He is a strong supporter of protecting and expanding programs at Santa Su High School.
Ron said he has the experience we need and this is no time for on the job training. The current board is working together unlike it has in the past and wants to continue as a team. Really against vouchers.
The current board has worked together on many issues and looks forward to working with them. Grimaced a few times at statements from other candidates, including Brad's comments about a "new" energy savings plan. I put new in quotes because they disputed how long the district has been doing it. I know there has been an energy czar position for a few years, but I don't know if he was talking about something else.
She has been on the board for many years and would like to continue with the current board and is thankful for the opportunity it has given her. She takes many trips to see the many schools in the area. She is strongly against vouchers. Debbie also explained that she is in favor of the current options for 6th graders. She ran in an earlier campaign when that was a top priority.
A candidate that didn't get his candidate statement in:
I will put in his thoughts when he gets his candidate statement sent into me. The program for the night said he didn't submit a statement. Maybe I am being harsh, but if you want to have us take the time to discuss your policy views, then show us you are taking this seriously. I will post your candidate statement, website URL, and any videos you have as soon as you send them in. I look forward to posting them for you. You have many talents that will serve you well in life. Make sure to stay involved after the election.
Ray has refocused his campaign from divisive social issues like creationism that came up in the last election and is instead focusing on the drop out rate and the expulsion rate. He does support vouchers and was criticized by many of the other candidates for this position. He brochure mentions his involvement in Cornerstone Church in Simi Valley and the endorsement of the Ventura County Republican Central Committee.
I found it odd he hasn't switched the words he uses like much of the conservative movement in America. Many supporters of teaching creationism now call it "intelligent design" and many supporters of vouchers now call it "school choice".
I spoke with Ray outside the event very briefly and although we likely don't agree on very many policies, he is very friendly. His involvement in church life shows in his daily life. In his last election I took a few videos of him that I have posted below.
Ray did show up with the most supporters by far. The parking lot had a bus, a van, and more vehicles with his campaign signs on them. He looks like he is putting much more effort into his campaign this time.
I talked to a few candidates about campaign finance and they directed me to the county government website to learn more. Click here to see some of the campaign finance reports. I tried using it to look up current information but I am done with it for now. The information seems to be out of date and not organized in an easy to use way. The most recent report has been downloading for a few minutes and at this rate I will finish the entry before it is done. What's wrong with html reports? If you find anything interesting in there let me know.
There were many responses to questions I am not going to write about. If you went to the debate and want to share what I left out, by all means post a comment. I saw a few people that post on my blog there including Mike Chandler of VoteSimiValley.com. Mike, I know your video quality is much higher than mine. I use a digital camera with a video feature whereas you actually have proper equipment. Do you have the ability to post the debate in full? I am going to leave it up to you and others to share their thoughts on the debate. My report is not meant to be conclusive.
Do you know how you are going to cast your three votes? This is a unique blog entry. Instead of a writer trying to convince you to support a cause or a candidate I am asking you to convince me.
I have my thoughts on the different candidates and I am familiar with most of the issues that they bring up. But I haven't finalized my three votes. Please leave your suggestions and picks as a comment. Make sure to explain how you are going to vote and why.
Thanks for the help.
I like to look at the bumper stickers on cars in the parking lots of debates. I don't know if they were attending the debate but I saw this Mike Judge supporter's vehicle which included a McCain/Palin sticker, a NRA sticker, and a Mike Judge sign showing his unique URL: JudgementSV.com
Mike, feel free to put up a link to the entry where you answered questions here on this blog.
( Raymond Cruz Simi Valley School Board candidate)
I heard that former school board candidate and current Ventura County Republican Central Committee Ray Cruz picked up papers to run again.
If elected should he resign from the central committee? I haven't thought it through all the way yet but I was curious about your input.
Ray Cruz has a long resume of helping out various causes in town. If I recall correctly he is in the financial services industry and active in his church. He also teaches a Bible Class. I only mention his church life because he has brought it in his past campaign.
UPDATE: Two people I respect went after me because I mentioned that Raymond Cruz is active in his church and that he has taught classes on the Bible .
1. I know Raymond Cruz is very much pleased to share his role in his church with the wider public.
2. In his past campaign he citied his church involvement.
3. He listed himself as an educator. His education background includes teaching people about financial services and teaching at his church. If he was running as an educator it makes sense to mention how he is involved.
4. He has brought up religious issues as part of his platform and not just creationism. About creationism he said: "We should teach creationism and give that an equal balance with evolution." Click here to read the article.
But now with all that being said the other parts of his contribution to our community should be shared more. When he starts putting out a detailed list I will post it. But off the top of my head and with an assist from Google he is also heavily involved with Rotary, The Cultural Arts Center, and the Vino Jazz Festival.
I know I am missing much more about his involvement but I will update it again as the campaign unfolds.
After all the years you have know me and my beliefs, including my religious faith, I think you should apologize for trying to make it look like I was going after him for being a Christian. That is just as unfair and uncalled for as if I actually did.
( Past candidate Thurlow Partridge (R) speaking about his campaign. To see more candidates videos click on continue reading.)
I don't know if any challengers will appear but SEA ( Simi Valley Educators' Association) which is the union that represents Simi Valley teachers has endorsed all three incumbents for reelection.
Unions have their own reasons for doing things and an endorsement this early surprised me. I personally like to wait to see who all the candidates are before I choose who I am going to support. Their goal was likely to encourage them all to run again and do make any potential challenger think again. Will it work or will we see a contested school board election?
I assume that means Janice DiFatta (R), Rob Collins (D), and Debbie Sandland (D) are all planning on running again.
What are the top priorities for you when voting for school board?
I want candidates that have a background in business or education. Someone that has helped local schools in a variety of ways. I want someone that will go to campuses not just for big events but to check out how things are being run. What I don't like is political activists that are there for their own reasons. A school board mixed with people from different parts of our community including education, business, and other places seems like a good fit.
In my mailbox today I found a slate mailer that says Raymond Cruz and Dean Kunicki are Democrats.
I know what is going on, but I will allow them to explain.
If they don't explain, remember they want you to think they are Democrats and they think it is important when choosing who you need on local school boards. If you don't normally vote for Democrats, keep in mind they want you to think they are Democrats.
If you get any more fun mail about the election, leave a message in the comments section.