Monday will be a day of excitement and a day of reflection for the Glendale Unified School District. In the municipal election April 7, first-time candidate Christine Walters, a former Hoover High School PTA president and teachers union favorite, replaced the school board’s most experienced member, Chuck Sambar, and the new trustee will take her place on the dais next week.

Sambar, like all the school board incumbents in this election, was a contentious figure over the last few months. Representatives of the union, which backed Walters and losing candidate Eric Sahakian, made no bones about their dislike of Glendale Unified’s direction during the campaign — even as others in the community raced to defend the board. After the election results came in, Sambar speculated that many voters may have opted for Walters simply because they wanted a change.

Perhaps that was the case, perhaps not. But now that the election is over and politics — we hope — are momentarily behind us, Sambar’s departure from the board still leaves some remarkable shoes to fill.

Sambar, who served 12 years on the school board, preceded his time on the dais with 35 years as a Glendale Unified teacher. He served twice as teachers union president and still serves as president of the Los Angeles County School Trustees Assn. As he prepared to step down, colleagues on the board spoke about his almost encyclopedic knowledge of the education system.

Anyone moving onto the dais Monday would have a hard time matching Sambar’s expertise. But we don’t mean to slight Walters. As a fresh and youthful face in a heated election season, she clearly inspired a number of voters, and we have every reason to believe that she will grow into the position well. For the sake of Glendale Unified, we certainly hope so.

As for Sambar, we wish him a happy and productive retirement and congratulate him for his years of accomplishment. Plus, we thank him for all those Community Commentaries, which helped fill our Forum page more times than we can count.

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