New faces join SCV school boards
Santa Clarita Valley’s education scene welcomes new officials as election brings leadership change
Four of the seven school board races that featured multiple candidates running in Tuesday’s election ended with a victorious incumbent, but three new faces will soon be headed to the governing boards of the Saugus Union and Newhall school districts.
Despite a majority of the incumbents claiming their seats, most races were won by less than a few hundred votes.
Ann-Marie Bjorkman challenged the longtime incumbent Joan MacGregor, who has served as a trustee on COC’s board for 25 years, in Area No. 5 of the Santa Clarita Community College District.
When early voting numbers were released at 8:45 p.m. Tuesday, MacGregor jumped out to a lead over Bjorkman, which she would maintain throughout the night after securing more than 5,000 votes.
“I am really pleased to have the support of the voters in my area and I think they have shown that experience is what’s important to them,” MacGregor said. “I look forward to having another positive effect on the board in the future.”
In the William S. Hart Union High School District, six candidates were campaigning for one of the two seats that were available in the district. Donna Robert would put up fight against incumbent Bob Jensen and challenger Chris Werthe, but Jensen would win by 6 percentage points.
Joe Messina, who also faced two challengers in Jeff Martin and Kelly Trunkey, would also go on to reclaim his spot as a trustee in the Hart District as he had more than 7,300 votes, which equated to 51 percent of the total votes cast in the race.
“I’m excited and looking forward to serving another four years,” Jensen said during Wednesday’s district meeting.
In Area No. 5 of the Saugus Union School District, where board President Chris Trunkey took on Sharlene Duzick, only 144 votes separated the winner from the loser as Trunkey received a little more than 51 percent of his area’s votes.
It would prove to be the closest race in SUSD, but Area No. 1, which featured Jesus Henao, David Barlavi and Evan Patlian vying for Paul De La Cerda’s vacant seat, was a close second.
Patlian would lose by 200 votes as Barlavi claimed victory with 38 percent of the vote, according to Los Angeles County records. Henao trailed close behind the pair with 1,250 votes
In the last of the Saugus Union races, Laura Arrowsmith would secure a seat in Trustee Area No. 2 of the district. With 53 percent of the vote, the Hart District educator was able to unseat longtime incumbent Judy Umeck.
All three candidates were at The Canyon Tuesday night, where they said they are eager to get to work and described the respect they had for their competition.
In other local school district races, Donna Rose led in the fight for a seat in the Newhall School District’s Area No. 2 with 50 percent of the vote. Her 1,891 votes were enough to edge former principal Larry Heath and candidate Liz Guardado, who were both also challenging for the seat that was left vacant when Christy Smith announced her intentions to run for the state’s 38th Assembly District seat.
Rose said she will look to provide support to the district’s new superintendent, which is something she feels qualified to do after serving as an assistant superintendent in the Santa Paula Unified School District prior to retirement.