A look at the candidates’ campaign points
The Santa Barbara Unified School District school board has three openings up for the Nov. 3 election. All three incumbents are running for reelection to regain their spots.
Recent board meetings have brought a slew of public commenters, some advocating for an overturning of the board. Community members have chimed in with their support for the incumbents’ challengers. Here are the six candidates:
Virginia Alvarez is the chief business official and a human resources administrator in the Montecito Union School District. She has over 30 years of experience, starting with a role as a school office administrator.
“As an administrator, I have extensive experience in school finance, specifically in basic-aid-funded districts like SBUSD,” she says on her website, alvarezforschools.com. “I know what to look for in a budget and what questions to ask to give clear direction to staff and be responsive to teachers, staff and the community.”
She has received the San Marcos High School Royal Award and the Santa Barbara County Classified School Employee of the Year award. She is a graduate of the district and has three children that have graduated from it, as well.
As a child of immigrants, she says she can understand challenges faced by the 20% of the district’s enrollment.
She is endorsed by many, including the Santa Barbara Teachers Association and Santa Barbara City Council member Kristen Sneddon.
A father of two students, Brian Campbell has been involved with the district through the Parent Teacher Organization, chairing Science Night, teaching science and other volunteer positions. Now, he hopes to gain a position on the school board.
He ran for City Council last year after seeing a need for more security at local schools but lost to Mike Jordan.
“Children, their education and their safety are a top priority for me. I live my life for my children, and I firmly believe that children are our future and must be protected and guided,” he said on his website, brian4schoolboard.com.
He wants to see more parent involvement in students’ education, including the district’s new sex ed curriculum.
“I support comprehensive sexual education but from all the public comments and petitions that were signed by almost 1,000 people, it shows an overwhelming abundance of people who are against the actual Teen Talk itself,” he said in a forum held by the Coalition for Neighborhood Schools.
Mr. Campbell has positioned his campaign alongside Elrawd MacLearn’s.
LAURA CAPPS, INCUMBENT
Laura Capps is the current president of the board and has extensive experience nationally and locally.
Over the past four years in the school board, she has advocated for bilingual education and the Multilingual Excellence Transforming Achievement plan. She has pushed for sustainability across campuses, and she annually votes to raise teacher salaries. She has also established a task force and coordinator position for school safety.
She served as a White House speechwriter for former president Bill Clinton, a communications director on John Kerry’s presidential campaign, an advisor to former senator Edward “Ted” Kennedy and participated in Al Gore’s climate change organization.
She has been the president of the Board of the Community Environmental Council and a director of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund. She served on the Santa Barbara County Commission for Women and on UC Berkeley’s Board of Trustees.
Her website is lauracapps.com.
Elrawd MacLearn is a Santa Barbara County health inspector not afraid to give his opinion on the issues facing SB Unified.
“The board has shown a lack of transparency in trying to and attempting to learn the needs of the community,” he said during the CNS forum.
On the homepage of learnwithmaclearn.com, he says the district poorly serves minority students. He emphasizes the district’s low literacy rates. He wants schools to refocus on language arts and mathematics.
He identifies as a minority from a low-income family. He worked two jobs to provide for his family while pursuing his degree. When he saw his siblings struggling, he switched to night shifts so he could home school his little brothers and sisters.
WENDY SIMS-MOTEN, INCUMBENT
Wendy Sims-Moten has 24 years of experience working for the county of Santa Barbara. She started as an accountant clerk at the County General Services Department. She is now the executive director for First 5 Santa Barbara County, an organization that supports children’s first five years of development.
She is a current trustee and a former board president. She has also been involved with Santa Barbara County Employee University Governing Council, Gateway Educational Services, CAUSE Action Fund, African American Women of Santa Barbara County, United Way Women United and Santa Barbara Women’s Political Committee.
“I will work tirelessly to ensure and believe that the education of our children and strong parent engagement plays a critical role in their lives and the health of our community,” she said in her candidate statement.
She has 56 endorsements listed on her website, wendysims-moten.com.
DR. JACQUELINE REID, INCUMBENT
Dr. Jacqueline Reid has been a board member since 2016 and currently serves as the vice president. During her time as board president, she advocated for the Ethnic Studies graduation requirement.
She has served as Director of the Women in Leadership Certificate program for Antioch Santa Barbara and co-director of the non-profit she launched in 2012, Teachers for the Study of Educational Institutions.
Dr. Reid has a master’s of arts and a PhD in Education from UCSB and a master’s of education and a teaching credential from Pepperdine.
“I am committed to address the opportunity gap, and passionate about equity and access for students of color, persons with disabilities, and others who are often marginalized by the educational system,” she said in her candidate statement.
Her website is jackiereid.org.
MONIE DE WIT
Monie de Wit, a local photographer, withdrew her son from Santa Barbara Unified schools after they couldn’t provide adequate instruction to accommodate his dyslexia.
“Many low income students, english language learners and dyslexics do not have the means and are stuck in a system that is based on a ‘wait to fail’ culture and doing too little too late,” she said on her website, literacyahumanright.com.
She has one endorsement, from Lady Leslie Ridley-Tree.
“I’m ready, willing and able to improve SBUSD by making math and literacy a higher priority, closing our persistent achievement gap, ending the school to prison pipeline and offering fresh perspectives and effective policies, celebrating each student’s gifts and focusing on unmet needs,” she said on her website.