Local Election Highlights: Promising New Leaders in Chico, Sacramento, and Placer County

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November 9, 2012 Besides the passage of Proposition 30, the election gave charter schools cause for celebration - new crop of charter-friendly candidates won seats on selected local school boards.

In Chico, Linda Hovey, the former chief business officer for Blue Oak Charter School was elected, along with charter-friendly incumbent, Liz Griffin. Families that Can distributed a non-partisan voter guide to inform Chico charter school parents about their choices in the Chico Unified School District race. We are just thrilled that Linda will join Liz as an charter champion on that board. They will make important decisions on charter school facilities later this year.

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Three school boards in Sacramento County will be getting new trustees that support school choice. In each district, Families that Can worked with CCSA members to engage families in the election through the nonpartisan CIVICS campaign:

Joining the Natomas Unified board are Ryan Herche, a Republican that favors competition amongst public schools; and Scott Dosick, a parent and board governing board member at Westlake Charter School. They beat out 7 other candidates - including an incumbent and the union-backed Karen Bernal - in a hotly contested race. Nearly 30% of the public school students in Natomas attend charter public schools, making positive district-charter relations a top priority. Both Natomas Pacifica Pathways Prep and Natomas Charter School hosted nonpartisan candidate forums, and Families that Can produced and distributed a family-friend voter guide to help people get informed.

Christina Pritchett, a PTA president and parent from the Rosemont leveraged her long history of volunteerism in the community to upset the Sacramento CTA-backed challenger in Sacramento City Unified School District's Trustee Area 3. She will bring a refreshing perspective to the board as one of the few sitting members with school-aged children. This spring, she will be weighing on budget cuts and a new balanced accountability framework that will impact both district and charter schools.

One of the most exciting stories comes from San Juan Unified, a large district in north Sacramento, where the collective action amongst charter leaders indirectly helped to add a second charter champion to the district board. The San Juan Charter Coalition, which is group of charter schools operating within the district boundaries, collaborated with Families that Can to produce a candidate voter guide and to host a candidate forum. They also met with candidate Saul Hernandez - a parent and booster club president - to learn more about his position on charter schools and educate him about the issues that we face. On Election Day, Saul received 2,000 more votes than they incumbent. He will join Larry Matsuoka on the board as pragmatic voices for public school choices.