Tonight: High school district board to pick new member


The governing board of the Sequoia Union High School District plans to interview and vote on candidates for an open board seat tonight.

Six people have applied to fill the seat left vacant when longtime board member Olivia Martinez retired earlier this month. The appointed member would serve the remainder of her term, which expires in December. The seat will be up for election in November.

The board will conduct candidate interviews in open session starting at 5:30 p.m. at the district office at 480 James Ave. in Redwood City.

With six candidates to be interviewed, followed by a board discussion and as many votes as needed to choose a new member, the board agreed to limit interviews to 30 minutes each.

The six candidates, in alphabetical order, are:

Georgia Solkov Jack, associate director of stewardship at Stanford University's Office of Development and an active community volunteer in Redwood City. Education: bachelor of fine arts degree in photo illustration from Rochester Institute of Technology.

"I believe the students of Redwood City that make up 40 percent of the district need representation on the board, and currently there isn't any," Ms. Jack told the Almanac.

Laura Martinez, a former mayor of East Palo Alto, community activist, and youth and family director at Aspire Public Schools. Education: bachelor's degree in sociology and Spanish from Whittier College.

"I think some of the greatest challenges that the district faces are maintaining strong fiscal health, closing the achievement gap, college and career readiness and continuing professional development," Ms. Martinez said in an interview. "I'm passionate about college and career readiness and extracurricular activities. I was the first in my family to graduate from a four-year college and I was able to do that because of the support I received from my high school college center and the college prep program I was part of."

I really believe that my unique background as an elected official (and in) education culminates my interest and desire to serve on this board and to serve the students in the community," Ms. Martinez said.

Ellen Mouchawar, an Atherton attorney (inactive) and active volunteer in the Ravenswood City Elementary School District. Education: bachelor's degree in international relations from Stanford University, JD magna cum laude from the Hastings College of the Law at the University of California in San Francisco.

"I'm really excited about where the board is right now,"Ms. Mouchawar said, referring to the recent changes that re-assigned all East Palo Alto students to Menlo-Atherton High School. Since the 1980s, about two-thirds of these students had been assigned to Carlmont or Sequoia or Woodside high schools and had to travel by bus.

"I think the district is set up to do some really innovative, fantastic things. I'd love to be a part of that," she said. "The district and the board have stated very clearly that our job is to educate all students. We haven't really been doing that. ... With this change in mindset, now is when the real work starts happening."

"I think I can actually really make a difference from the inside now instead of always being on the outside banging on the door," Ms. Mouchawar said.

Jay Siegel, a former member of the Las Lomitas Elementary School District board. Education: bachelor's degree in economics from Antioch College, doctorate in economics and statistics from Stanford University.

"I really believe in public education, and I think public education really needs, should have, citizen input," Mr. Siegel said. While the board will have a good selection of candidates to choose from, he said, he added that he sees himself as being able to contribute immediately, given his experience on the Las Lomitas board.

Sus Kim Thumasathit, the chief executive of the medical consulting firm All For One in Menlo Park. Education: Pepperdine University, The George L. Graziadio School of Business and Management.

Isaiah Vi, an information technology analyst and a former member of the JobTrain board of directors. Education: Information not available at the time of publication.

The Almanac was unable to reach Ms. Thumasathit or Mr. Vi for interviews.

Palo Alto Weekly reporter Elena Kadvany contributed to this report.

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Posted by in district
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 9, 2015 at 12:44 pm

Although Laura Martinez grew up in the district, I read that she attended public school in Santa Clara County. Do all other candidates have kids attendeding Sequoia HS District schools?

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