Two spots open in district’s Nov. 3 race
Editor’s note: This is part of a News-Press series on local candidates in the Nov. 3 election. Next week’s stories will cover the legislative, congressional and Goleta mayoral races, as well as the Santa Barbara County Board of Education.
Goleta Union School District’s five-member board had two openings up for election Nov. 3.
Susan Epstein has served her maximum number of terms, so the district is guaranteed at least one new board member.
Here’s who is running in the K-6 district.
Caroline Abate calls herself “the only Common-Sense Conservative for the Goleta Union School District” in her candidate statement.
She goes on to say, “Partisan political ideas, harmful sexual curriculums and globalist educational agenda have no place in our public schools.”
She is outspoken in her opposition of the new sexual health curriculum and the dual language immersion program.
She teaches part time with a teaching credential from UCSB and holds a registered nurse license, which she said is beneficial as schools reopen.
Her endorsers include Santa Barbara Conservative Republicans and Jean Blois, a former Goleta mayor and a former Goleta Union School Board member.
Her website is carolineabate4goletausd.com.
Devany Bechler is a former math teacher and mother of four Goleta Union students.
“Our schools are made of incredible students and families and in light of this complicated season, our Board of Trustees now needs better parent representation from more diverse schools in our district,” she writes in her candidate statement.
She has served as the president of the Hollister Parent Teacher Association for the past two years and was vice president for one year. She connects with administrators and parents as part of the school site council.
She serves as a village leader in Santa Barbara County’s DSS Villages Program and helps foster and adoptive families.
“I want the best possible outcome for students and the community, and I am committed to improving the quality of our district’s education and accessibility,” she says on her website, devanyforgusd.com.
DR. VICKI BEN-YAACOV
Vicki Ben-Yaacov holds a doctorate in electrical engineering from UCSB.
During her 12-year career as an engineer at Sonos, she led outreach programs for schools. The experience led her to launch Youth Innovation Club, a nonprofit that connects educators to professionals in science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics.
She has two daughters in the district and is endorsed by several of the current board members.
She strives for academic excellence, equity and a balanced budget.
“We must support students to optimize their educational progress, so every child can thrive,” she said in her candidate statement.
Her website is vickiforschoolboard.com.
Father of three Goleta alumni, Greg Hammel has volunteered in the district and feels his experiences helped prepare him for a school board position.
Mr. Hammel and his wife ran “Cans for Camps,” a recycling effort that raised $20,000 toward academic camp scholarships.
He wants to focus on closing the achievement gaps in the district, if elected.
“This inequitable education gap has been a long standing, chronic problem in the GUSD for at least the 20 years that I have been involved with the district,” he says on his website, greghammel.com.
SHOLEH JAHANGIR, INCUMBENT
Sholeh Jahangir, the current board president, is running for re-election.
She was a Santa Barbara Unified School District student before getting a history degree from UCLA.
She is a former teacher and hopes to reduce the achievement gaps in core subjects.
“Teaching taught me the importance of collaboration, inclusion, supporting teachers and community involvement,” she said in her candidate statement.
She is endorsed by Santa Barbara Unified board members Dr. Jacqueline Reid, Rose Muñoz and Wendy Sims-Moten.
Her website is sholeh2020.com.
PATRICIA “MAX” RORTY
Patricia “Max” Rorty works as a clinical social worker at the Isla Vista Neighborhood Clinic.
She co-founded the Santa Barbara Transgender Advocacy Network and hopes to improve social justice efforts as part of the board.
“As a community leader in Goleta and Santa Barbara for the past 10 years, I know that ensuring that all people have access to education and health care transforms communities,” she said in her candidate statement.
She served as a commissioner for the city of Santa Barbara’s Community Development and Human Services committee.
Her website, maxrorty.com, lists many endorsements. Among those are the Santa Barbara Young Democrats, Santa Barbara Women’s Political Committee, two Goleta Union school board members and three Santa Barbara Unified school board members.