For anyone to actually want to serve as an elected official these days, it takes an eyes-wide-open approach to what surely will be a very hard four years.
Crushing budget deficits — whether by maddeningly short-sighted decisions made years ago, or by the axe in Sacramento —almost surely will force some hard decisions as our elected representatives grapple with changing the structure of public service, be it in our schools, City Hall, utilities or other areas.
It’s against this grim landscape that the Glendale News-Press pressed candidates for City Council, the Glendale Unified school board and Glendale Community College Board of Trustees in a round of endorsement interviews. Our endorsements for the GUSD and GCC boards appear below. Endorsements for City Council will appear in next Saturday’s edition. Whether you agree with us or not, please remember to cast your ballot April 5.
GLENDALE UNIFIED SCHOOL BOARD
In her many years on the school board, incumbent Mary Boger has become the rock.
A public servant for years before she even reached the board, Boger has represented Glendale’s education interests tirelessly — be it College View, the campus that serves those with special needs, or in Sacramento, on the state board of education.
She has also shown a desire and ability to reach out to community stakeholders, including the City Council, to address joint issues, something that no doubt will become a key strategy in navigating what could be crushing state funding cuts for education.
Yes, her husband is the former president of the teachers union. But those who let that stand in the way of an honest evaluation of Jennifer Freemon would be letting politics get in the way of making what could be a refreshing addition to the school board.
She has demonstrated in forums and in interviews her command of issues facing the district and classrooms. A teacher herself, with three children, Freemon would bring to the board a perspective that hasn’t been represented strongly enough.
Freemon could also bring some credibility and bridge-making ability with the Glendale Teachers Assn., which very well could be asked back to the negotiating table next year after the district has exhausted its federal stimulus funding.
And like Boger, she favors a scalpel for cutting the budget, instead of wholesale chopping of programs that affect different campuses in different ways. Her nuanced approach, from a teacher’s perspective, will be a benefit during those tough discussions.
GLENDALE COMMUNITY COLLEGE BOARD OF TRUSTEES
In this race, there’s no need to fix what doesn’t need fixing.
Incumbents Tony Tartaglia and Vahe Peroomian have demonstrated their commitment to the future of Glendale Community College time and time again, be it in their efforts to generate more sources of revenue, or in insisting on a conservative fiscal policy that has proven to be a key buffer against potentially debilitating state funding cuts.
Their steadfast support of maintaining a 5% reserve may be taxing the patience of employee groups on the campus who feel that money should be used to smooth over budget-related troubles, but that money is the one thing standing between fiscal calamity and continued belt-tightening.
The trip-up over the contentious hiring of former Supt./President Audre Levy aside, it was an expensive lesson learned. But it was dealt with, and now we need proven leaders to continue to lend their navigation skills on the board.
Regardless of what happens in June, when voters likely will decide whether to approve Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax-extension proposal, the future for school districts is clear: Don’t depend on Sacramento.
Measure S, the $270-million bond on the April 5 ballot, would essentially extend what Glendale residents have already been paying via Measure K, which transformed the district’s campus infrastructure.
The bond may only be able to be used for brick-and-mortar upgrades and construction projects, but that funding source will free up roughly $20 million in the district budget for other uses, such as teacher compensation.
It’s not as ideal a funding source as, say, a parcel tax, which typically come with far less spending restrictions, but opponents of the measure — the Glendale Teachers Assn. and some candidates — aren’t seeing the forest for the trees.
When you’re starving, you don’t pass up a rib-eye and hold out for the possibility of a filet mignon.