Ron Dietel Decides Not to Run for LCUSD Board, But Joel Peterson Will

Saying he wants to spend more time with his family, La Cañada Unified School District Board of Governors President Ron Dietel announced at Tuesday night's meeting that he will not run for re-election in November.

His decision not to seek a second term on the board may have alleviated a potential logjam in the upcoming governing board race with three seats up for grabs. Incumbent Andy Beattie had already filed his papers to run for a second term and the other incumbent, Scott Tracy, who has not filed yet, said at the meeting that he will seek reelection.

In addition, Joel Peterson, a decorated naval officer and involved member of the La Cañada Flintridge community, earlier this week announced he has filed papers to run for the LCUSD Board.

Beattie was surprised and disappointed by Dietel's announcement. He said he had hoped that all three incumbents would have run for reelection, but could understand the problems that each board member faces in trying to balance their board duties with their family and job responsibilities.

Dietel said he wants to thank everyone, especially recently retired LCUSD Superintendent Sue Leabo, for all the help they have given him during the last three-and-a-half years he has been on the board.

"It has been an exceptional opportunity to work with a group of extremely dedicated school board members, an outstanding school district staff, excellent teachers, administrators, parents and community leaders," Dietel said in a prepared statement.

Dietel said that despite financial problems, the district has competent people to run and guide it.

"I feel that the District accomplished many important goals despite our state's major financial hurdles. I am confident in Mr. (Jim) Stratton's (the new LCUSD superintendent) leadership skills and that his new ideas will continue to strengthen our education programs. I am very happy to hear that Mr. Beattie and Mr. Tracy are running again for the board and they have my full support," Dietel said in the statement.

Dietel said it was a tough decision not to run for the governing board again, but that he has other things he wants to do, besides being with his family.

"Spending more time with my family is tops on my list. I'm finishing a book on education, have a new photography idea that has been on the back burner for some time and would love to play a bit more tennis," he said in the statement.

With a chuckle, Dietel said he wasn't moving away and that he is still going to be involved with the community and the school district.

"It was a difficult decision, but I will still be around," Dietel said.

Peterson, who is currently a managing partner of a private equity investment firm, has lived in LCF with his wife, Janis, and son, Drew, a fifth grader at Palm Crest Elementary School, since 2000.

In a prepared release, Peterson said he has several reasons for seeking a seat on the LCUSD Board.

"I want to work closely with the Board, the District's staff and teachers to advance District goals and priorities. This is the core of the Board's charter and progress needs to be made," he said in the release.

"I think these goals and priorities needed to identify and address the complex tradeoffs inherent in issues like class size, employee compensation and management stewardship of the district's assets," the release said.

Peterson, who has an MBA (magna cum laude) from Virginia Tech and a bachelor of arts in economics from the University of Virginia, said his teaching background and financial experience would help him on the governing board.

"It is important to hold the Board, administrators, teachers, staff and students to high standards - I believe that our community deserves nothing less. I feel I can bring my business and financial expertise, as well as my experience in teaching and public service, to add value to the District's processes," he said in the release.

Peterson said he is a product of public education and that strong public schools are the foundation upon which the best communities are built. "With the many challenges facing the District, I would like to help strengthen the tradition of outstanding public education in La Cañada Flintridge," he said in the release.

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