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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Two Incumbents and Two Challengers Win School Board Seats

• Voters Split the Difference on Support for Status Quo and Turn Out Current President

BY SUZANNE GULDIMANN


For Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Board of Education and voted in two challengers.
Santa Monica education activist Laurie Lieberman received the most votes— 15,157.
Incumbent Oscar de la Torre with 13,362 followed her. De la Torre will be serving his fourth four-year term on the board.
Incumbent Ralph Mechur, who was appointed in 2007 and elected to finish out the remaining two years of the term in an uncontested race in 2008, received 12,126 votes.
Challenger Nimish Patel, a district parent who currently serves on the SMMUSD Financial Oversight Committee, unseated current Board President Barry Snell for the fourth seat with a solid margin. Patel received 10,945 votes, Snell finished with 9804.
Pat Cady, a retired district teacher and the only Malibu resident on the slate, received a close 9704 votes.
Santa Monica High School alumnus Chris Bley, who teaches in a neighboring community, received 9177 votes.
Media producer Jake Wachtel, a district parent and the last of the eight to announce his candidacy in the race, received 5064 votes.
A total of 71,365 voters are registered in the district—12,151 of those are in the Malibu area.
In Malibu, Cady received 1598 votes; Patel had 1487; Lieberman, 1349; Snell, 1241; Mechur, 1178; De la Torre, 1019; Bley, 1181; and Wachtel, 679.
In Santa Monica, Lieberman led with 12,416 votes; De la Torre received 11,242; Mechur, 9902, Patel, 8411; Snell, 7571; Cady, 7010; Bley, 6978; and Wachtel, 3870.
Santa Monica residents also voted to pass Measure Y, and its corollary, Measure YY, which proponents say could provide as much as $6 million for district schools, including SMMUSD campuses in Malibu.
Measure Y is a .5 percent sales tax increase in the City of Santa Monica that could potentially generate $12 million dollars for the city coffers.
Measure YY is a “nonbinding proposition” that recommends that half the money generated by Measure Y go to the school district.
When YY was first proposed, SMMUSD officials were reportedly under the impression that any education funding generated by Y would go exclusively to the school district.
However, officials at Santa Monica College have now also expressed an interest in sharing any education-earmarked Y funds.
Y received 15,622 yes votes, with 10,045 opposed. YY earned 17,126 yes votes, with 8196 opposed to the proposition. Malibu residents, whose schools could benefit from the tax increase, were not eligible to vote on the measure, and only those who regularly shop in Santa Monica will be contributing to the tax fund or impacted by it at the cash register.

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