One “B,” one “C,” one “Incomplete” and one “Standard Not Met.”
Those are the grades assigned to SB Unified School District Superintendent Cary Matsuoka by Ismael Ulloa, Rose Munoz, Mark Alvarado and Kate Ford, respectively, as the four candidates with the most high-profile campaigns met face-to-face, for the first time in the school board race, on "Newsmakers TV."
As we’ve reported previously, the four at this early stage enjoy the strongest organizational operations and greatest financial backing – (which loyal readers know always are two of the three key elements of any political campaign) amid the eight contenders competing for two seats.
Their 50-minute sit-down on TVSB on Wednesday night offered each the opportunity to set forth the third, and most important, component of a campaign -- their message to voters.
The discussion, dialogue and debate are on our You Tube channel, right here, right now:
In our second show, Ricardo Cota; retired real estate agent Bonnie Raisin; and banking executive Jill Rivera agreed on many issues, although it also seems clear that Raisin and Rivera are the two most fiscally conservative competitors in the race, while Cota – a middle school teacher and three-tour veteran of the Mideast wars – brings the most up-to-date frontline classroom experience to the contest.
Jim Gribble, the eighth candidate and a scholar at the Gevirtz Graduate School of Education, is working on a project in Finland and was unable to join the conversation.
The three-way exchange is also on our You Tube channel:
Key campaign advantages. Ulloa and Munoz are the endorsed favorites of the local Democratic Party, while Alvarado and Ford are running as a slate with the enthusiastic support of Save Our Schools, or SOS, the coalition of parents and activists formed in the wake of the district’s botched demotion of former San Marcos High School Principal Ed Behrens last winter.
The Behrens incident emerged as a key difference between the four, as Ulloa, an appointed board incumbent, defended the process and his vote to can Behrens while Munoz tip-toed around the issue, in contrast to Alvarado and Ford, who both sharply criticized the handling of the Behrens matter.
Among other differences that emerged: a sharp exchange over the Dem endorsement; the effectiveness of the incumbent board in addressing the achievement gap and the unique experience each hopeful would bring to the job.
We’ll leave further political analysis and policy assessment to our viewers, with hope that the two programs provide some food for thought as they make up their minds about the Nov. 6 election.
Don’t forget to vote.