City Will Host SMMUSD Board of Education Candidates Forum
BY BILL KOENEKER
The Malibu City Council this week gave the nod for the municipality to host two candidates forums to be held at Malibu City Hall prior to the Nov. 6 election of members of the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Board of Education and the Santa Monica College Board of Trustees.
The plan was forwarded by Mayor Laura Rosenthal, who had been asked by the League of Women Voters of Santa Monica for the city to host the two candidates forums.
A similar paring of two candidates forums is tentatively scheduled in Santa Monica in October.
The cost to rent the multipurpose room at City Hall $82 per hour was waived by the council.
"Mayor Rosenthal is requesting that the customary fee for rental of the room be waived. The league has requested that the forums be filmed by the city and broadcast as often as possible in the weeks leading up to the election," a city staff report states. The council concurred.
"Hosting a forum in Malibu does several things that are unique to Malibu (different from forums hosted in Santa Monica). The questions asked of the candidates by the audience are both general in nature and specific to the needs of Malibu. Malibu voters will hear the answers to their questions and learn where the candidates stand," wrote League of Women Voters of Santa Monica vice president for programming, Barbara Inatsugu, in an email to the mayor.
"The candidates will hear the questions and concerns of Malibu voters. This will inform them and help them to be responsive to the needs of Malibu, if elected. It also puts the candidates on the record publically and helps us hold them accountable,"
Candidates in the school board race include incumbants Jose Escarce, Maria Leon Vazquez and Ben Allen, Malibu school activists Karen Farrer, Craig Foster and Seth Jacobson, and Santa Monica challenger Jake Wachtel.
Allen, the current board president, is completing his first term on the board. Leon Vazquez and Escarce have both served multiple terms.
Wachtel ran unsuccessfully in the previous school board election.
Farrer, Foster and Jacobson, who are running as a slate, are all active in the the Advocates for Malibu Public Schools.
Malibu unification—the official term for creating a separate Malibu school district is expected to be a key campaign issue for the Malibu candidates.
The last Malibu resident to serve on the SMMUSD Board of Education was Kathy Wisnicki, who opted not to run for a second term in 2008.
Malibu resident Pat Cady ran unsuccessfully in the last election.