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Commentary: Who I am and why I am running

Students walk past Newport Harbor High School.
Students walk past Newport Harbor High School. Krista Weigand, a candidate for Newport-Mesa Unified School District, Trustee Area 6, offers an explanation of why she’s running for the position.
(Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)

After the votes of November’s upcoming election have been counted, both Martha Fluor and Dana Black, trustees of the Newport-Mesa Unified School District, will have completed their extensive careers. Elected in 1991 and 1996 respectively, they have a combined 53 years of service, and we thank them for their hard work, countless hours of time and dedication to our community.

To say there is a need for leadership when the dust of this election settles is an understatement.

Let me begin by introducing myself. I am a mother of five 5-year-old twins who are currently enrolled at Mariner’s Elementary. I am a national account manager for Spectrum Brands, a publicly traded company which is routinely featured on Fortune magazine’s top lists. And, when organized sports resume, I am a passionate youth soccer coach.

Many ask me why I have decided to enter the arena and run for such a difficult position. It’s an easy answer — I believe in public education and I want our children to succeed.

As a product of public schools and daughter of a middle school teacher, I have seen with my own eyes the power of our educational system. I am confident that with my background in business, finance and budgets, I can place my managerial experience to good practice at a time when the state of California continues to look locally to fill its ever-growing appetite for resources.

The global pandemic of COVID-19 will not last forever, but the strain it has placed on families, both rich and poor, will stick with us for a very long time. We must prepare for children being behind the curve and do everything in our power to catch up on a lost year of learning.

As distance learning continues to encompass most of the discussion during these times, we must remember that its days are numbered. School must not and cannot continue remotely. While the fear of getting sick is understandable, the district must prepare for a return of in-class instruction sooner rather than later.

A story of the haves and have-nots is playing out districtwide. Children of fortunate families are seeking private institutions with waivers for in-class instruction, while those who don’t have the means are stuck balancing work with their children’s Zoom classes.

An issue that will certainly grow in the aftermath of COVID-19 is mental health. I look to be a stalwart by bringing awareness and helping those who are most vulnerable receive the best possible instruction. We must do a better job at making education equitable for everyone.

My campaign continues to gain momentum. Recently I was honored to be endorsed by Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes. He understands the importance of a uniformed presence at our schools, and working together with both Newport Beach and Costa Mesa police departments will be a priority of mine.

Lastly, a word on transparency. The public demands and respects a certain level of discussion that lets everyone become involved. While I may not agree on everything the Federation of Teachers does, they have a right to be heard. The same goes with the students, community members and parents. NMUSD needs to do a better job at listening. Listening to the parents. Listening to the community. Listening to our teachers, faculty and classified staff. Listening to the students. As I have been out campaigning, I’ve heard a constant reoccurring theme — “nobody seems to listen.” I am ready to listen.

It would be an honor to receive your vote during this very important time for NMUSD, and I look forward to making a difference for our community.

Please visit my website at Krista4NewportMesa.com for more about my vision.

The writer is a candidate for Newport-Mesa Unified School District, Trustee Area 6.

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