New and familiar faces are elected to Newport-Mesa school board

From left, incumbents Karen Yelsey and Charlene Metoyer and newcomers Ashley Anderson and Michelle Barto won election to the Newport-Mesa Unified School District board.
(File Photos)

Tuesday’s election in the Newport-Mesa Unified School District resulted in a mix of fresh and familiar faces winning spots on the board of trustees.

Incumbents Charlene Metoyer (Area 2) and Karen Yelsey (Area 4) reclaimed their seats, while newcomers Michelle Barto and Ashley Anderson were victorious in Areas 5 and 7, respectively.

Area 2

Includes College Park, Davis Magnet, Paularino and Sonora elementary schools, plus Costa Mesa middle and high schools

Metoyer, who joined the board in 2014, defeated challenger Michelle Murphy, collecting 54.2% of the vote. It was the closest race in the district, which Metoyer attributed to the diversity of the community in Area 2.

Metoyer, a retired teacher and principal in Newport-Mesa, said she’s been invested in the district for nearly 30 years, beginning as a parent.

“I’m excited to continue the work I have been doing with Newport-Mesa … and I’m honored to be able to continue as a member of the board of education,” Metoyer said Wednesday.

She said her goals for her second four-year term include continuing to improve mental health programs and support for students and maintaining a good relationship with the city of Costa Mesa.

Area 4

Includes Anderson, Harbor View, Lincoln and Newport Coast elementary schools

Yelsey, a 12-year veteran of the board, was the top vote-earner by a large margin. She brought in almost 70% of the vote, compared with challenger Gina Nick’s 30.5%.

The contest was the most contentious among the district races. During the campaign, Yelsey drew attention to Nick’s history of personal bankruptcies, while Nick claimed Yelsey broke a “promise” to limit her terms on the board.

Nick, a medical practice owner, also claimed that Yelsey was somehow tied to the online publication of her daughter’s personal information, which Yelsey denied. The district investigated the matter in September and determined that no district employee or official had disclosed private student information.

Yelsey said Wednesday that she’s looking forward to working with the new board members and that the election being over is “a big relief.”

She said she plans for this to be her last term on the board.

“There was a lot of divisiveness and partisanship that came in with the election, and I’m just ready to move on to the idea that we need to focus on our kids,” she said.

In a text Wednesday morning, Nick said her supporters made her effort “100% worthwhile.”

“I want to send out a huge thank you to all the wonderful people who took the time to research the issues and go out and voted for me,” she wrote.

Area 5

Includes Newport Harbor High, Ensign Intermediate and Newport Elementary schools

Barto ran as “the voice of change” in Area 5, opposed only by fellow newcomer Paul Hillson. Current trustee Judy Franco did not seek reelection.

“I am honored and inspired by the support I have received from the community,” Barto said Wednesday. “I look forward to continuing the conversation and doing the best for our kids.”

Nearly 63% of voters chose Barto, compared with Hillson’s 37.5%.

Barto said her goals as a trustee include improving communication between the board and the community and a continued focus on mental health services for students.

Area 7

Includes Pomona, Rea, Victoria, Whittier and Wilson Elementary schools

Anderson, a nonprofit director and teacher, won more than 63% of the votes in the district’s only three-person race.

Anderson ran against fellow newcomers Bertha Rodriguez and Diana “Dee Dee” RuoRock, who collected 19.5% and 17.1% of the vote, respectively. Current trustee Walt Davenport did not seek reelection.

Anderson, a lifelong Costa Mesa resident, could not immediately be reached for comment Wednesday. Her candidate statement included plans to improve student reading levels, enroll more students in the district’s free preschools and provide “equal access to resources” for all families.

Five other area elementary and high school districts had board seats up for bid this year, as did the Coast Community College District.

Coast Community College District

For the first time, trustees of the Coast Community College District were elected by voting areas.

Incumbent David Grant ran unopposed in Area 5, which includes Newport Beach and part of Costa Mesa.

In Area 1, which includes Long Beach, Seal Beach and Westminster, incumbent Jim Moreno, a 12-year trustee, defeated his opponent, Dom Pham, with 72.9% of the vote.

The five-member board governs Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa, Golden West College in Huntington Beach and Coastline College in Fountain Valley.

Fountain Valley School District

Voters were asked to choose three candidates from a pool of four for the Fountain Valley School District board.

Incumbent Sandra Crandall, a retired teacher, was in first position with 30.1% of the vote with all precincts reporting. Following were fellow incumbents Jim Cunneen and Lisa Schultz, who garnered 26.3% and 24.9%, respectively. Trailing them was challenger Jennifer Weimer.

The five-member board governs seven elementary and three middle schools.

Huntington Beach City School District

The Huntington Beach City School District board had five candidates vying for three available seats.

Leading with 25.4% of the vote was incumbent and retired school principal Paul Morrow, followed by retired teacher Diana Marks with 21% and incumbent Shari Kowalke with 20.1%. Behind them were Jennifer Hayden and Karrie Burroughs.

The five-member board governs two middle schools and seven elementary schools.

Huntington Beach Union High School District

Three seats were available on the five-member board of the Huntington Beach Union High School District.

The top three vote-earners with all precincts reporting were incumbent Bonnie Castrey with 23.7%, retired teacher and principal Diana Lee Carey with 23.2% and incumbent Duane Dishno, a retired superintendent of the Huntington Beach City School District, with 22.2%. Behind them were Martin Salgado and Saul Edward Lankster.

The board governs six comprehensive and three continuation high schools in Huntington Beach, Westminster and Fountain Valley.

Laguna Beach Unified School District

Five candidates ran for three available seats on the Laguna Beach Unified School District’s five-member board.

The latest results showed incumbent Carol Normandin in the top position with 22.6% of the vote, followed by fellow incumbent Dee Namba Perry with 21.9% and former Menlo College president James Kelly with 21.1%. Behind them were Christine de Bretteville and Mark Nelson.

The board governs one middle school, one high school and two elementary schools.

Ocean View School District

Voters were asked to select three candidates from a pool of five to serve on the Ocean View School District board.

Incumbents Patricia Singer, John Briscoe and Jack Souders held the top spots, notching 24.5%, 22% and 21.2% of votes, respectively.

Challengers Gracey Van Der Mark and Kate Holmes followed.

Singer sought election after being appointed to the board this year.

Briscoe also was the Republican candidate for the 47th Congressional District seat but was defeated by incumbent Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach).

The five-member board oversees two preschools, 11 elementary schools and four middle schools in Huntington Beach, Fountain Valley, Midway City and Westminster.

Twitter @CharityNLindsey


4:40 p.m.: This article was updated with Karen Yelsey’s comments.

This article was originally published at 2:10 p.m.