Election day is almost here, but if you haven’t decided who you want to represent you and your children in the Lucia Mar Unified School District, here’s a quick look at the candidates.
This year will notably add a new trustee in the Nipomo region, bringing the total number of trustees in that area to two. Four candidates — current trustee Chad Robertson and three newcomers — are competing for those two seats.
In Oceano, two candidates will face off for one seat: incumbent Vern Dahl versus local advocate Andrea Vergne.
It’s important to note that residents vote for all district board candidates, not just those for the area they live in. So for example, even though no Pismo Beach seats are up for grabs this election cycle, Pismo Beach residents are still being asked to vote for who they think would best represent the other district areas as well.
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The Tribune sent questionnaires to the candidates in contested races asking for basic biographical information and a brief explanation of what motivated them to run for office. Get to know them better by checking out their profiles below. Candidates’ responses have been edited and condensed for clarity and length.
Dahl, who is running for another term in office representing the Oceano district, did not respond to our questionnaire, so his answers are not included.
Additionally, Colleen Martin is running unopposed for her seat representing Area 2, or Arroyo Grande; she was not included in the survey because she is guaranteed to retain her seat.
Biographical information: Married with 3 children, all graduates of Nipomo High School. 32-year resident of South County. Bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University.
Occupation: Small-business owner, former French instructor with the Bright Futures after school program
Volunteer work: PTA president, school site council, Lucia Mar district committees, writing tutor, Nipomo High School drama program and sports teams, Dana Adobe, Community Foundation SLO County scholarship committee, alumni admissions interviewer for Georgetown University
Running for: Area 1
Why do you want to run for school board?: I have been invested in the Lucia Mar school district for over 20 years. Even though my last child graduated in 2014, I continue to stay engaged in the district, working to help pass the Measure I Facilities Bond and co-founding Voices of Lucia Mar for Education (VOLUME), a grassroots coalition improving communication and stakeholder involvement. I am passionate about helping students develop their potential and view this opportunity to serve on the school board as yet another way to make a difference for kids. I am committed to transparency, collaboration and listening and will work to build trust with the community and the more than 1,000 teachers and staff who make up Team Lucia Mar. The stewardship of district funds is a huge responsibility, and I am dedicated to being thoroughly prepared for board meetings so that every dollar can be leveraged to best serve our students. The well-being and success of our children will always be the guiding principle for all decisions, big and small.
Biographical information: Married for 38 years; three children and six grandchildren. Graduated from California State University, Stanislaus.
Occupation: retired teacher
Running for: Area 1
Why do you want to run for school board?: My experience teaching in multiple states and grades fuels my passionate belief that the future success of our community resides upon the ability of our students to successfully compete within our increasingly complex and technological world. The decisions that are made today have great impact upon the future of our children and community. It would be my privilege to join LMSD management and staff, as they lead our district’s students in pursuit of career readiness and individual career paths.
Biographical information: Married with two school-age daughters. Graduated from Arroyo Grande High School. Bachelor of science from Chico State University. Paramedic degree.
Occupation: Owner of Robertson Builders; paramedic with San Luis Ambulance
Running for: Trustee Area 1
Why do you want to run for school board?: I have served on the Lucia Mar School Board for the past six years with the last three years as board president. I am running for re-election because I truly believe in the work we do for students and the future opportunities we provide them. I am a product of this school district as is my wife and brothers. My daughters, nieces and nephews are all current Lucia Mar students so my family’s roots in this district and community grow deep and I am committed to its success. Treating people with the respect they deserve has been — and will continue to be — my first priority as a school board member. Listening to people and understanding their point of view is the only way to ensure we make the right decisions for our kids. I believe my respectful approach has been an essential part of the school board’s decision process over the past six years. The school board has faced some difficult choices in the last two years and my bottom line has been, “What is best for the kids?” It would be an honor to continue working for the students of Lucia Mar Unified School District for another four years. Your vote for Chad Robertson is a vote for respect, reason and results.
Biographical information: Married, one child attending Arroyo Grande High School. Bachelor of arts from California State University Long Beach. California License Clinical Laboratory Scientist (current), resident of Nipomo for 18 years.
Volunteer work: Nipomo Native Garden
Running for: Area 1
Why do you want to run for school board?: 1. Quality of education — I would support and continue the goal of the Lucia Mar Unified School District to educate our children, academically, socially and physically, and provide them with the tools and environment to fully develop their individual potential, allowing them to become engaged, fulfilled, contributing members of society. 2. Safety — I applaud the current board for instituting protocols and training to respond to critical incidents on campus. However I would advocate investigating developing proactive technologies that may show progress in identifying potential violent acts before they happen. 3. Demographics — The number of older Californians is predicted to rise while the number of school age children will tend to decrease, placing additional strains on education budgets. The new LMUSD Board will need to make nimble, creative solutions to ensure we are able to continue to provide educational excellence.
Biographical information: I am a foster parent and mom, all children are in the Lucia Mar Unified School District. I am engaged and have lived in the area since 1999.
Volunteer work: Gubernatorial appointee to the State Council on Development Disabilities. Brought the Teen Closet to Arroyo Grande and Nipomo high schools, providing clothing and school supplies to homeless, foster care and disadvantaged students. Served two terms as Lucia Mar Unified School District’s Community Advisory Committee representative for Special Education Local Plan Area; helped found the Adults in Transition Program school, which opened in January 2018. Serve on SLO County District Attorney’s First Responders group.
Running for: Area 3
Why do you want to run for school board?: I continue to actively serve and participate on community and statewide committees and boards whose purposes are to foster ongoing improvements ensuring successful programs for all students’ success in our school districts and in a state-wide level. ... In moving forward, there is a need to: secure and implement the best educational strategies in order to achieve observable and measurable academic, social and life skill growth; recognize, respect and celebrate the variety of human beings in our community, understanding that one size does not fit all students; add program options and flexibility for all student achievement; encourage and empower families to become involved in school curriculum; and promote and support strategies for enhanced community safety and work along side county leadership to lessen the debilitating homelessness that seriously impacts our community members, especially our most vulnerable children. Thank you in advance for your support and commitment to all of our valuable members of our communities, and I would appreciate your vote on Nov. 6.