Valley incumbents ousted


first_imgLANCASTER – Incumbents were turned out in five school board races and the Antelope Valley College board election, with all the candidates endorsed by teachers unions winning except in the college election. The biggest changes occurred in the Acton-Agua Dulce Unified and Westside Union school districts, with voters ousting all the incumbents and replacing them with newcomers in Tuesday’s polling. In the Acton district, voters elected Mark Distaso, Leona Ruth Sexton and Ron Bird over appointed incumbent Max Duran and incumbent Fred Heslep. In Westside, Christine LeBeau, the sole incumbent running, was not re-elected with John Curiel, Linda Jones and Joan Sodergren emerging as victors. “It’s clearly a mandate from the voters that the district move in a different direction that represents their best interest,” said Jones, a special education teacher at Chaparral School in the Palmdale School District. “Eliminating class-size reduction was a major issue. In terms of planning for space and making sure we are proactive instead of reactive, that was a major issue.” Curiel, a law enforcement officer who works at the Lancaster state prison and who was the top Westside vote-getter, also said the vote was a mandate for change. “The message is to relieve overcrowding, promote student safety, and put money in the classrooms. That’s what this campaign was about. And also to listen to parents, and that’s what I’m going to do,” said Curiel, a parent. “This was a victory for the children, the parents, and the taxpayers of Westside. This victory was for them. I am humbled by the trust they have put in me, and I want to live up to the expectations that they placed in me.” In other school board races, voters returned some incumbents to office but ousted others in the same district. Voted out were appointed incumbent David Eubanks in the Eastside Union School District, Shawny Barcelona in the Palmdale School District, Robert Vincelette in the Southern Kern Unified School District, and Michael Adams on the Antelope Valley College board. Candidates endorsed by the Antelope Valley Education Coalition, a group of teachers unions from local school districts, won seats except for Adams and Timothy Hayes in the AVC race. The winning candidates included Al Beattie, Jim Lott and Ira Simonds in the Antelope Valley Union High School District; Keith Giles, Diane Grooms and Greg Tepe in the Lancaster School District; Sandy Corrales, Sheldon Epstein and Jeff Ferrin in the Palmdale School District; and Curiel and Jones in Westside. Victors said the teachers union endorsements helped but also pointed to other factors unique to their candidacies. “I think parents have confidence in their teachers,” Jones said. “Regardless of what others might say, there is still that relationship.” Simonds, the top high school board vote-getter, retired in June as a teacher. He credited his win to the union’s endorsement as well as to having taught in local high schools for 37 years and “having lots of former students and parents out there and lots of people who know Ira Simonds.” Unlike other races where incumbents lost, Simonds said voters in the high school district were content with the way things were going, and he ran as a “team player.” “I think the school board has done a very good job over the past few years. People were happy. There wasn’t a lot of major issues,” Simonds said. Grooms, regional vice president for United Way in the Antelope Valley, cited her work as a volunteer and with United Way as contributing to her win. Her short-term goals include becoming familiar with each one of the Lancaster schools and looking at ways to link the nonprofit community with schools and the needs of families. Karen Maeshiro, (661) 267-5744 [email protected] AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWalnut’s Malik Khouzam voted Southern California Boys Athlete of the Week160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img

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