Foley eyes school district seat

COSTA MESA — Councilwoman Katrina Foley has announced her candidacy for the Newport-Mesa Unified School District Board of Education, possibly creating a third vacancy on the City Council in the November election.

If elected to the school board, Foley would give up her council seat in the middle of her second four-year term, a somewhat unconventional move; in politics, candidates tend to go from schools boards to councils and then countywide or state offices.

"I really feel the schools need stronger leadership on the Mesa side of the district," she said. "And I do a lot with the schools already, and I get a lot of calls from parents about schools and it seems like a natural next step."

Foley is challenging incumbent Michael Collier, who also announced his reelection bid, for the Trustee Area 2 seat on the seven-member school board.

The board is not making a strong enough push to complete the aquatic complex at the Costa Mesa High School before the start of the upcoming school year, Foley said.

Newport-Mesa has also yet to vote on the master plan for sports fields, which will improve the athletic and community facilities at several schools in the district, she said.

Foley, a mother of two boys attending district schools, cited those as two examples of how the district lacks leadership.

"People will probably disagree with me, or not like that I'm raising these issues, but these are issues that people are bringing up to me," she said. "I'm not pulling these out of thin air. These are concerned parents that continue to raise these issues over and over for years. And on our side of the district it seems that nothing is really done. Our community deserves better."

Collier said the district has accomplished much its students in the past few years. Despite a budget crisis and districtwide layoffs, students' grades continue to rise, he said.

"We're one of the districts that other districts look up to, that's leadership," Collier said.

Collier said he believes that the master plan for sports fields is a good idea, but that the district can't approve it without first securing a funding source.

"We have something called fiscal responsibility," he said. "Until we know where the money was coming from, until we have money, we can't spend ahead of time. That's what's leadership. We all stated that it was a great idea."

Foley's decision to run for the school board could create a new majority on the council, depending on who wins the two open council seats and who is appointed in Foley's place should she be elected to the board Nov. 2.

As of Tuesday, only Costa Mesa Councilwoman Wendy Leece and challenger Chris McEvoy, a mathematician who ran in the 2008 council race, took out papers to enter the 2010 election race.

Four seats are up for election on the Newport Beach City Council. So far, Ed Reno and Rush Hill have announced their bids to replace Councilman Don Webb, who is terming out of his District 3 seat. Councilwoman Nancy Gardner has announced that she is running for reelection for the District 6 seat.

All candidates must file their election papers by Aug. 6.

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