School board races take shape

Competitive races for school board seats are taking shape in South Pasadena, San Marino and at Pasadena City College.

In South Pasadena, where two seats will be at stake on Nov. 8, board incumbents Joseph Loo and Richard Sonner will run for reelection against challenger Benjamin Figueroa, an administrator at Cal State L.A. and longtime local schools booster.

In San Marino, three candidates are also vying for two open seats, but with one incumbent squaring off against two hopefuls.

At Pasadena City College, where governing board trustees are elected by district, two incumbents will face competition, and two will not.

Friday was the deadline for candidates to enter the South Pasadena or PCC race.

Election rules allow candidates in San Marino to enter the race as late as Aug. 17 because an incumbent, Karen Preston, will not run.

The field in San Marino so far includes Board of Education President Chris Norgaard, insurance broker and parent volunteer Sigang “Scott” Hu, and attorney Lisa Hinchliffe Link, president of the San Marino High School PTA and a trustee of the San Marino Schools Foundation.

Pasadena Area Community College District Governing Board President Bill Thomson, an attorney and former Pasadena mayor elected to the PCC board in 2007, will square off against Martin A.C. Enriquez-Marquez. Enriquez-Marquez is a Pasadena resident who recently pushed the California Citizen’s Redistricting Commission to draw political boundaries to better empower minorities.

Trustee Jeannette Mann, who in 1983 became the PCC board’s first female member, will be challenged by Altadena Republican activist Brian Fuller, who ran for an Assembly seat in 2008. Mann is a longtime member of the Pasadena-based progressive political action group ACT.

Trustees John Martin and Linda Wah will run unopposed.

In South Pasadena and San Marino, candidates say campaigns will focus on how to best grapple with unstable state funding.

Norgaard, 62, is running for a third term in San Marino. He said he wants to stay on to help manage a $5-million lease agreement with the city for municipal use of the former Stoneman school site.

Link, 50, said she acquired expertise about school financing while representing the Los Angeles Unified School District on fiscal matters.

Sonner, 51, said South Pasadena schools officials are considering whether to offer up the district’s Mission Street parking lot for commercial development. He is seeking a third term.

“When state financing is less and less and everybody wants to do more and more, you’ve got to be creative,” said Figueroa, 50, who said he worked on property development issues at Cal State L.A.

“I think we’ve been pretty thrifty,” said Loo, 56, a South Pasadena board member since 2002. “Right now we have a great team.”

Hu, 54, said he decided to run in San Marino because Preston is leaving.

“Parents need to be involved,” said Hu, who has two boys in the public schools. “If more people run, that’s a good thing.”

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