Though they lost the election to incumbents for three spots on the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Board of Education, Malibu candidates said their work is far from over.
"Even with the passage of Proposition 30, the district has some hard choices ahead," Seth Jacobson said on behalf of himself. "We have to make sure that Malibu is not at the short end of those decisions. We need to focus on creating our own district."
Voters on Tuesday in Santa Monica and Malibu opted to keep Santa Monica residents and incumbents Ben Allen, Maria Leon-Vazquez and Jose Escarce in office for another four-year term. Malibu candidates Craig Foster, Karen Farrer and Jacobson, who ran on a reform slate, failed to win even one seat.
Allen received 17,889 votes, Leon Vazquez garnered 14,294 and Escarce collected 12,803. Foster trailed with 11,563, Farrer with 9,305 and Jacobson with 6,859 votes.
"The disparity in votes between Santa Monica candidates and Malibu starkly points to the near impossible task of gaining representation for Malibu," said Jacobson.
Jacobson quoted Ted Kennedy in saying, "'the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.'"
Foster said he was disappointed about the loss, but that the campaign got to the heart of many important issues.
"I'm really concerned about whether those issues will be addressed given the outcome of the election. I'm committed to keep pushing forward on everything we talked about and making that difference for the school district that all of us wanted to make," Foster said.
Farrer said she was encouraged by the amount of support the Malibu reform slate received across the district.
"We can't stop here. We have to keep going with everything that we have talked about in our campaign, issues that were already on our mind, issues that were brought up to us, issues that became aware to us through conversations in Santa Monica and Malibu. We're not going away," Farrer said.
Allen, who was first elected to the board in 2008, commended all the candidates in the race.
"I think all of the candidates were able to keep the discussion focused on how to improve the district and how to improve outcomes for students. That’s the strength of the candidates in this race," Allen said.
He also said the campaign underscored the need for a Malibu voice on the board, which is something he said he is committed to addressing.
"We’ve got to have a discussion about how that representation looks," Allen said, adding that the relationship could be anything from a liason, a district advisory committee or another mechanism.
"It’s really important that we continue to have that conversation," Allen said.
Allen also thanked the Malibu residents who voted for him.
"I want to particularly thank those folks in Malibu who stood with me. They knew I was committed to bridge building. I’m committed to living up to their support. I’m committed to continuing that path of collaboration," Allen said.
Jose Escarce, who has been on the board for 12 years, offered congratulations to the Malibu candidates.
"I thought they did a terrific job and thank them for running. I expect that we will work together even more than in the past," Escarce said.
Escarce said he has always supported the idea of giving Malibu more a voice on the board.
"I am sure we will move forward with exploring ways the Malibu voice can be given representation," he said. "...I think we will push for that conversation to happen."
Escarce praised voters for supporting Proposition 30, a $6 billion a year tax increase package that helps avoid further cuts to public education, and Measure ES, a $385 million bond that will go toward facility and technology improvements at Santa Monica and Malibu Schools.
"It was a good night all around for our schools and the state as a whole," Escarce said, adding that the district will still have to continue to look for revenues.
Leon-Vazquez did not respond to repeated requests for comment.