Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times | Terms of Service | Privacy Policy

Commentary: I know just the guy to fill school board vacancy

The announcement that Newport-Mesa Unified School District board member David Brooks is stepping down presents the board with the option of naming someone to replace him or holding a special election.

Don’t hold your breath waiting for a special election. The board will select a replacement because it can’t take the chance that you and I will pick someone who may question its spending, progress or handling of anything out of the ordinary, such as the debacle involving former Supt. Jeffrey Hubbard and the alleged cheating scandal at Corona del Mar High School.

The board will play it safe and may even pay a consultant to advise it of suitable candidates. Bureaucracies like to hire consultants and establish committees and commissions, because it relieves them of the dirty work of actually having to make a tough decision on their own.

So I thought that I’d save the taxpayers some money, and save the school board some time, by letting them know that I am available as a replacement for Brooks.


In some ways, I’m the perfect candidate. I live in his zone. I’ve been covering the school board for more than 15 years and am familiar with the demands and expectations of the office. Because I am self-employed and work mostly from home, my schedule is flexible, and I can devote the time it takes to do the job effectively.

I have experience with budgets. OK, maybe not a budget the size of the district’s, but I did manage a multi-million-dollar budget for a successful advertising agency a few years ago — and did a good job too. There was money left over at the end of a very profitable fiscal year.

I’m a steady, stable guy. I was married for 25 years (my wife passed away in June 2012 and I have since remarried), raised two kids, both of whom have managed to stay out of any serious trouble (my son got a speeding ticket last year), and have put in many hours of community service for the city of Costa Mesa, the school district and league sports. Currently, I am vice chairman of a committee that will make recommendations on the future of Fairview Park.

I’ve never been fired from a job, do not drink to excess and am in excellent health.


Perhaps most important, I like to have fun. I believe that even with the serious business that must be conducted by the school board, serving can also be an enjoyable experience.

And contrary to what some of my potential colleagues may believe, I want exactly what they want.

I am a realist, though, and know that I have about as much chance of getting Brooks’ seat as Hubbard [who was fired after a felony conviction that was later overturned] has of getting his supervisor gig back.

But just in case, on the slim chance that they’ll pick me, here’s a preview of my thoughts on two issues before the board.

The kids who allegedly cheated at Corona del Mar should not be expelled. They should be transferred to another school and required to spend the majority of their free time in some form of community service. That service requirement must be a massive commitment of time in exchange for keeping their alleged offenses off of their college applications.

For their service commitment, the alleged cheaters should mentor and tutor underprivileged kids in Costa Mesa’s Westside elementary schools.

Oh, and I’d also take away any electronic device that has a screen. That alone is probably sufficient punishment.

The other decision is easy for me because it is on the radar of the Fairview Park Citizens Advisory Committee: The city is woefully short of athletic fields for league sports. The school board needs to be a much better partner with the city to help our kids. Maybe they can form a committee to come up with some recommendations.


In any case, I’m available. But I’m not holding my breath.

Costa Mesa resident and Fairview Park Citizens Advisory Committee member STEVE SMITH is a former Daily Pilot columnist.