After graduating from law school at U.C. Berkeley in 1989, Josh Gottheim secured a job at the Downtown Los Angeles law firm of Brown Winfield & Canzoneri, where he met principal attorney Ken Brown.
A longtime resident of La Cañada Flintridge and then-city attorney for his hometown, Brown acquainted the young Pasadena lawyer with the city's charm, its close-knit community and excellent schools. Years later, Gottheim and wife Mari would come to know the area and, in 2012, move here with their young children.
"That's how I got to know La Cañada as a great place and a great family community with great schools," the 55-year-old land-use attorney recalled in a recent interview.
Now, the father of three — son Gabriel is in the eighth grade at La Cañada High School 7/8, while twins Louisa and Daniel are La Cañada Elementary second-graders — is running for one of three open seats on the La Cañada Unified School board with four other candidates.
When David Sagal announced he wouldn't seek a second term, Gottheim saw an opportunity to apply his experience working as counsel on a master plan development for the city of Corona and a significant bond program at the Los Angeles Community College District to the position.
For two decades Gottheim has specialized in California Environmental Quality Act and says that expertise could help the district implement a facilities master plan calling for extensive building and renovation on all campuses.
"I believe my experience could help us stay out of trouble," he said. "If you don't have an independent watchdog, and if the board isn't sophisticated enough about the issues, they may not be able to spot as many potential problems."
A strong supporter of the $149-million Measure LCF school bond, which would pay for some of the master plan's identified projects, Gottheim is optimistic about how LCUSD will be able to position itself in the years ahead.
He's also a fan of differentiated instruction, which lets students at different levels learn in the same class. Gottheim praised the district for creating an individualized computer-learning program when son Gabriel was advanced beyond his fourth-grade level in math, and said he'd like to expand the concept.
"I really think that's a model that can work for more kids," he said. "It can actually free up the teacher to spend more one-on-one time for the kids who need it."
While there are many things the district does well, Gottheim said too many unanimous board votes indicate it may be time for a fresh perspective.
"There are candidates who are incumbents, and that's great. But I think it would be good to have some new voices as well," he said.