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Black Voice News Election Endorsements for November 2011

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Riverside School Board
The election season is upon us and one name that will not be on the ballot for Riverside School Board is Lewis Vanderzyl. He is hanging up his tenure for retirement but his legacy of courage and leadership for education and the community will remain. At the height of the naming of Martin Luther King, Jr. High School for the district the CNN and other media outlets put the spotlight on a community in racial turmoil over the naming. Lewis led the school district and community to understand the value in the name and contributions of King to our nation. It is rare for school board members to stand out front on racially charged issues but Lewis demonstrated what leadership is about and set an example for others to follow; having said that, we now have to move on and elect others to follow.

We have three seats to fill and I am recommending Patricia Locke-Dawson, Tom Hunt and Gayle Cloud to fill them.

While Patricia is new at campaigning she is not new to the community or education. She has a good history of community involvement that will serve her well as a school board member. Her involvement with education is extensive having three children currently enrolled in elementary, middle and high school in the district. Most board members interest are different when your children are students, I know my interest was different.

With a district as divided as Riverside, it is refreshing to see a candidate committee to “provide a quality education to ALL students” as part of their platform.

Tom Hunt and Gale Cloud are seeking re-election and deserve re-election. They have provided leadership during these tough financial times while keeping student’s academic a top priority. Tom as president and Gale as clerk have helped guide the district during these tough times while maintaining steady growth in academics.

While I am a great proponent of inclusion of people from all groups, it appears as though the African American and Latino community has not field good candidates up to the challenge of seeking election. This has not prevented those elected from making sure all students get the resources needed for a successful experience in the district.

Perris School Board
For Perris School Board I am recommending our friend Virniecia Green-Jordan, who has served the children with distinction. She is an advocate not only in the district and community but at the state level with the California School Board Association and Black School Board Members Association. She understands that children cannot vote so she interfaces with state elected officials on their behalf to develop policies to improve education for everyone including staff. She might be known as the hat lady but she is also an advocate for children.

Banning School Board
Deborah Dukes is seeking re-election in Banning and deserves your support to help her provide a better education for our children. She wants all children to have the same kind of opportunities she is giving her daughter, Diondra now attending Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee and graduated from Banning High. Deborah is very active in her community serving on several organizations, boards, and as church administrator for 1st Missionary Baptist Church.

Alvord School Board
Ben Johnson is putting children first as he has done since serving on Alvord Unified School Board. His service to children and the community has earned him recognition as outstanding citizen award for Riverside county and volunteer of the year from JC Penney Points of Lights program. He has received other awards but his mission is to provide every child in the district with the opportunity to succeed by improving academic scores in a safe environment.

San Bernardino City Unified School Board
This November in the City of San Bernardino, the citizens will have the opportunity to set a new direction in the school district by electing four board members that will have the interest of every student, employee, group, and segment of the community in their heart. Our students can learn when the leadership shows concern and interest in a positive direction that develops an atmosphere conducive to learning.

To make that happen a board member must put aside their personal agenda of I want to help only one group of students by recognizing that all students are their responsibility. It is not an easy job but neither is it impossible. If our community is to move forward all students must be given the same opportunities that our public schools afford.

This is the 6th or 7th largest school district in the state of California with over 52,000 students. They say in its mission: “to provide academic instruction to each enrolled student sufficient to develop the skills, knowledge and understanding required to promote personal development to the fullest extent of the individuals’ potential.”

The only way to accomplish that mission is by working together as board members, giving clear direction to the superintendent with a commitment to every employee, student, and parent recognizing that not one size fits all students. Every board member brings their individual ideas to the board with the aim to integrate them into a workable policy that will accomplish their stated mission. Having said that, I am offering these four individuals that have demonstrated this as a way of living with their stated objective.

Margaret Hill has retired form the district as a teacher and principal. During her tenure she picked up the reputation of being a mother to all children. She would go to students’ home and get them. She would give them a lift home if need be. She would find them shelter if they needed it. She would give them food if they were hungry. I remember taking a group of clergy members to her school and I saw her give confidence to students who did not believe in themselves. Most people in Margaret’s position would retire and go traveling and be home with family; but no, Margaret sees children and says, I can help. She puts children first.

Lynda Savage is currently serving on the board and has contributed a lot to this district. I served with Lynda and know firsthand her commitment to students, staff, and community. Lynda knows how to work together with others to get the mission accomplished. Lynda, like Margaret Hill, could retire and leave others to fight for all students but being a trained educator she cares too much for a community that helps contribute to her families success. We need her level headed thinking to help guide these 52,000 students as they prepare for tomorrow. Lynda has always put the children first.

Juan Lopez is a new start on the horizon and will help develop this district into a shining example of what I know it can become. This young man is a product of the community and district and is now in a position to take the knowledge gained as District Representative for Assembly Member Wilmer Amina Carter. His experience can help explain the intricacies of Sacramento to fellow board members for the betterment of all students. Juan also has three children currently attending school in the district and his wife is a teacher, so education is a top priority in his family. Juan is a collaborative working young man and works well with all segments of the community and will foster an atmosphere of togetherness when it comes to diversity. Juan believes all students must be prepared with the skills to compete as citizens in this competitive society.

Mike Gallo an Aerospace Engineer has done some exciting things to engage children in education. Mike said, “we must inspire and engage our students with hands-on, applied learning strategies, from the onset of their educational journey, to equip them with the knowledge and skills that prepare them to participate in the American Dream and excel in the 21st Century Workplace.” Mike is correct, our students are in competition with children in other countries for jobs that will require a high level of education. His approach of bringing relevance and application of education to life experience is needed in our school system. His experience in the aerospace industry and community will assist the board to remain focus on providing the curriculum necessary to accomplish that mission.

San Bernardino City Council
The City of San Bernardino has four council seats up for election with three of them facing challengers. The council faces many challenges but the worst one is the antagonizing, uncivil behavior toward each other with a “I gotcha” mentality of Wendy McCammack. She serves as a mouthpiece for city attorney Jim Penman who would like to be the mayor or voting council member. Their actions and egos serve no purpose other than sending the wrong image to people who live here or would like to do business in the city. These two individuals support the police and firefighter unions who draw their pay from the city taxpayers but live in other communities.

Even though Chas Kelly votes with McCammack, his demeanor is not quite as disruptive as McCammack, maybe because his employer, County Supervisor Neil Derry is constantly under fire for poor decision-making and questionable friends. Chas and Wendy are advocates for the city to do business with local citizens while letting police and firefighters take millions of taxpayer’s dollars to other communities each and every day. They also undermine the leadership of these departments by always siding with the employees over the chiefs, which is no way to govern. Therefore I can not support either candidate for re-election.

Rikke Van Johnson of the 6th Ward has no challenger because he has done a good job while keeping the voters of his ward tied into the communication loop. Rikke also recognizes that he was not sent to be a mouthpiece for employee unions or to be intimidated by other elected officials like the city attorney. He has shown respect for all city employees and the contribution they make to the city regardless of position or department.

I first meet Tobin Brinker several years ago and was impressed with his commitment to children and the community. Since his election to the city council that opinion has not changed but has grown stronger from my observations of his actions at the council meetings. He has held his ground when it comes to addressing issues facing the city regardless of opposition from employee unions or the city attorney while being respectful of their opinion. The people of the 3rd Ward should reelect Tobin Brinker for the good work he does and the positive leadership he provides the city.

The residents of the 7th Ward can help the city by electing Jim Mulvihill as their representative. Jim is well educated and would bring a much needed civil demeanor to the council that will help move the city forward. In addition Jim has some great ideas to improve the business community image and increase traffic flow of customers. His urban planning training is what the city could use now to help with the redevelopment of a city that needs a facelift.

Elect Larry Lee for a change in the seat of the 5th ward. This life-long resident of the city wants civility at city hall with no new taxes or raising fees. He recognizes that with cooperation at city hall, we can bring jobs and people back into the city. He says to change the image of the city we must start with how we think about the city which includes beautification and safety of the streets. Larry is also a strong believer in volunteering as well as providing spiritual leadership to his church family. He has been married for over 40 years with children and grandchildren. Lee is a graduate of San Bernardino High School.

Rachel Clark is retiring from her position as City Clerk where she has done a fantastic job over the years. Since this is a position of record keeping of all actions of the city, I am recommending Esther Jimenez to replace her.

Esther grew up in San Bernardino with roots dating back to the 1800’s and currently is employed by Assembly Member Wilmer Amina Carter. Her training researching legislative legislation in Sacramento uniquely qualifies her as a keeper of records. She is well educated with an AA from San Bernardino Valley College and a BA from UC Riverside. Make Esther your next City Clerk in San Bernardino.

David McKenna has been out of politics for sometime but has tossed his hat into the race for city attorney. I know David from his days on the county board of supervisors and that as public defender for the county of San Bernardino. There is no doubt in my mind that David would make a good attorney for the city but would provide positive leadership to a department that has witnessed too much political accusations and intimidation toward others and the public from its current occupant.

The city is in dire need of a professional legal advisor who does no want to be the mayor or a non-voting council member. The city needs an attorney who can help close deals that leads to business development for taxes and employment of our citizens. The city is in need of an attorney that will work with homeowners instead of sending threatening notices of “we will take your land.” The city needs an attorney that will work with our faith-based community instead of taking them to court.

Penman has served long enough just as he said about Ralph Prince 24 years ago. The city is in need of David McKenna for city attorney.

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