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8 candidates compete for three seats on the Newport-Mesa school board

Members of the Newport-Mesa Federation of Teachers joined California School Employee Assn. members in a demonstration.
Members of the Newport-Mesa Federation of Teachers joined California School Employee Assn. members Sunday in a demonstration at Costa Mesa High School.
(Courtesy of Kimberly Claytor)

As students prepare to return to schools in the Newport-Mesa Unified School District next week and district officials, teachers and parents arguing both for and against whether or not in-person instruction can resume safely, three seats for the district’s school board are now up for election this November.

The incumbents have termed out, but only one — Vicki Snell — is seeking reelection to the district’s seven-member board.

Officials represent seven “areas” within the greater district, which governs 32 schools between Newport Beach and Costa Mesa. Trustees are voted in by residents in each of those areas, as opposed to being elected by voters districtwide.

Seats are open in District 1, 3 and 6.

Here is a quick look at the candidates running, in alphabetical order:

District 1

Includes Early College and Estancia high schools, TeWinkle Intermediate School, and Adams, California and Killybrooke elementary schools

Leah Ersoylu: A parent and president of Ersoylu Consulting, Ersoylu is active in the school district and participated in the district’s Human Relations Task Force, the District English Learner Advisory Committee and District Wellness Committee. On her campaign site, Ersoylu lists school safety, accountability, parent engagement and quality education as her key issues.

Vicki Snell (incumbent): Snell was appointed to the district’s Board of Trustees in 2014 after a veteran board member left his position to pursue charity work. Snell was later elected that year as the representative of Area 1. She was reelected in 2016. On her campaign site, Snell said she plans to focus on COVID-19, state assessments and mental health support.

District 3

Includes Eastbluff Elementary, Corona del Mar Middle School, and Back Bay/Monte Vista and Corona del Mar high schools

Charles Kent Booker: A parent of two children at Eastbluff and owner of a trucking company based in Riverside, Booker said he was inspired to run for the school board because of the challenges of COVID-19 and incumbent Martha Fluor’s departure. Booker’s key issues are transparency, student safety, expanding technical curriculums and creating connections between school fathers groups.

Carol Crane: Crane is a retired teacher who taught in Irvine and parent who raised her three children in the Newport-Mesa Unified School District. Crane’s campaign website states she and her family have been deeply involved in the school district and her key issues are student advocacy, community engagement, fiscal responsibility and leadership accountability.

District 6

Includes Kaiser, Woodland, Mariners and Newport Heights elementary schools, and Harper Preschool

Xeno Ralf Muller II: A private music instructor, Muller is also a full-time college student at Cal State Fullerton. He and his siblings graduated from the district between 2016 and 2020, with the exception of his brother. Muller said he decided to run because of his partner, who is studying to teach elementary school students, but also because he wanted to make a difference in his community.

Amy Peters: Peters is a mother of three children and businesswoman in Newport Beach. She participated in the Western Assn. of Schools and Colleges accreditation process at Newport Harbor and was a member of several school site councils. Peters ran in 2016 for a seat in Trustee Area 3. Her key issues are fiscal accountability, accessibility and academic program enhancement.

Krista Weigand: Weigand is a mother of twins attending Mariners Elementary, but also is a national account manager at Spectrum Brands. Weigand coaches her daughter’s soccer team, but has also been a volunteer as a university alumni advisor. Her key issues are fiscal responsibility, transparency, communication and prioritizing students’ mental and emotional development.

Alexis Zavouris: Zavouris’s LinkedIn states she is a communications engagement associate with Capital Group in Irvine. Her campaign site states that she has experience with managing budgets, communication skills and gathering input from stakeholders from varying viewpoints to make “tough decisions.” Her key issues are providing a quality education and campus safety.

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