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Questions Arise Over 'From Malibu, For Malibu' Slogan

Election signs for Malibu-based candidates in Santa Monica proclaim " “Transparency. Focus. Achievement.” While in Malibu, they read, “From Malibu. For Malibu.”

Some concerns have been raised in Santa Monica over differing messages from three candidates for the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Board of Education, according to published reports.

In Santa Monica, the signs for challengers Craig Foster, Karen Farrer and Seth Jacobson read “Transparency. Focus. Achievement.” While in Malibu, they proclaim, “From Malibu. For Malibu.”

“It's really important that the voters choose board candidates who consider it their responsibility to look out for the entire school district and our children in both Santa Monica and Malibu,” Board President Ben Allen, who is seeking reelection, told the Santa Monica LookOut. (Allen is a Santa Monica resident.)

The candidates, who are running on a platform of reform, are going up against incumbents Allen, Jose Escarce and Maria Leon-Vazquez. The election is Nov. 6.

Foster, who is the president of Advocates of Malibu Public Schools, said previously the group is running to represent all schools in the district, not just Malibu.

"It’s still uphill battle against a very powerful entrenched political system," Foster said, adding that if voters elected all three "that would give us three out of the seven votes on the school board."

The last Malibu resident to serve on the school board was Kathy Wisnicki, who chose not to seek reelection in 2008.

"We’re running on a platform of putting the focus back where it belongs on excellent schools, and having schools as good as the two cities deserve," Foster said.

Foster, Farrer and Jacobson have all voiced support for pursuing the process of creating two separate districts, pointing to preliminary analysis from the SMMUSD and an independent study.

Allen, who has also said he supports exploring the possibility of separating the districts, said he has some concern about the number of Malibu candidates.

“If they had one candidate asking for a voice for Malibu, this message would've made more sense … The idea that they want to take over half the board is something voters in both communities ought to view with some hesitation,” Allen told the Santa Monica Lookout.

Board member Ralph Mechur told the newspaper he believes the signs in Malibu are about unification, the legal term for creating a new school district.

“Trying to drive the focus toward unification could impact current programs negatively,” he said.

Seth Jacobson October 13, 2012 at 12:23 AM
What is ironic, is that Mr Allen and Mr Mechur both went out of their way to be endorsed and embraced by Santa Monicans for Renters Rights and in Mr. Allen case their recent mailer to over 40,000 registered voters, states: "for over three decades the leadership of our City has come from SMRR" and we are about "protecting our local schools". No mention of Malibu or the entire district including the unincorporated areas anywhere in that piece. I would say that is not very representative of the "entire" district. Its very simple we have a base of support in Malibu and we want to motivate them, just as Mr Allen and his fellow incumbents have done for over 12 years. Much ado about nothing I would say.
Karen Farrer October 13, 2012 at 01:23 AM
It seems to be understood by many in Santa Monica, and certainly the school board, that one person from Malibu is the maximum that could ever be considered - or desirable. A provincial representative, not a fully functioning board member. Actually, many people in Malibu are global thinkers, so who looks provincial now? The school district is not a fiefdom, despite what the current board says.
Heather Anderson October 13, 2012 at 02:23 PM
Its hard to believe that Santa Monicans are complaining about the number of candidates from Malibu when they have made such an issue out of our fielding so few candidates in the last election when only Pat Cady from Malibu entered the race. So if one is too few and three is too many- is there some unspoken rule that two candidates is just right? The school board made it necessary to create a campaign with a clear geographical bent when it refused to allow a non voting advisory board member from Malibu to weigh in on some of the fast changing policies of our schools district. Malibu citizens should vote for a Malibu candidate so that our city and our schools have representation for our unique issues and aspirations.
Joe Candelo October 15, 2012 at 06:43 AM
Seth and Karen know perfectly well that SMRR runs an independent expenditure campaign that the candidates have no coordination with nor control over. And they fail to mention the many organizations and leaders that have endorsed the incumbents who look out for the needs and interests of schools in both communities, including the Santa Monica-Malibu Classroom Teachers and the Community for Excellent Public Schools (CEPS). In comparison, Jacobson and Farrer seem to be explicitly running on a "From Malibu, For Malibu" ticket, at least when they're talking to folks in Malibu. No one should be making a mountain out of molehill here, but the "reform slate's" advertising is very telling. Until there is a separation, we need board members who really consider themselves representatives from both communities who care about the kids in both communities.
Janie Gonzalez October 15, 2012 at 06:56 AM
Where does Santa Monica for Renters' Rights flyer say anything that cuts out Malibu? It only talks about our "local schools", and in our District, at least for now, "local schools" includes Santa Monica AND Malibu schools. Only the folks in Malibu seem to think that their schools are not part of our "local" schools. For God's sake, Santa Monicans pay a lot of money to keep Malibu schools strong (look at all the City of SM money it puts into the District as a whole).
Melody C. October 15, 2012 at 03:14 PM
You've just made yourself look hostile- not reasonable.
John W. Elman October 21, 2012 at 02:30 PM
A reminder: All 6 candidates for the 3 SMMUSD school board positions will be participating in a final pre-election forum Wednesday, October 24th at 7:30 p.m. in the Fireside Room of Pepperdine University. The public is invited. The event is sponsored by the Malibu Rotary Club and Patch Editor Jessica Davis is moderator, using questions submitted by Patch readers. http://malibu.patch.com/articles/smmusd-school-board-candidates-to-meet-in-malibu-for-forum

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