Incumbents lead in races for O.C. Education posts

Mari Barke Courtesy photo

Votes are still being tallied from California’s June 7 Primary Election but so far incumbents are dominating in races for posts related to education.

Of note, in the race for California’s Superintendent of Public Instruction the incumbent is leading but it’s not yet clear who he’ll face in a November runoff.

In Orange County, the current Superintendent of Schools and three incumbents on the Orange County Board of Education (OCBOE) are all leading their challengers. In these races there is no runoff.

As of June 13, there were around 120,000 ballots left to process by the Orange County Registrar of Voters. Counties must submit their election results to the Secretary of State by July 8 who will officially certify the election on July 15.

In the race for Orange County Board of Education Trustee Area 2, current Board President Mari Barke of Rossmoor is leading with 59% of the vote according to the latest update on June 13 from the O.C. Registrar of Voters.

Trustee Area 2 covers Rossmoor, Seal Beach, Los Alamitos, Cypress, Huntington Beach, Fountain Valley, Costa Mesa and parts of Newport Beach and portions of Irvine.

In an email to Spotlight Schools, Barke said she felt “blessed” to be re-elected by her community.

“As a result of the significant victories over our opponents that my colleagues and I received during the recent election, as well as the feedback given to me while knocking on thousands of doors in my district, I feel as though we have been given a mandate to continue our important work with regard to school choice and parental rights,” Barke wrote.

Challenger Martha Fluor, a retired trustee on the Newport-Mesa Unified School District Board of Education, trails Barke with 31% of the vote.

“I am disappointed,” Fluor wrote in an email to Spotlight Schools. “It does indicate that elections can be bought,” Fluor added in reference to donations made by the Charter Schools Political Action Committee which, according to public campaign financing records, donated a total of $225,000 to the campaigns of the three OCBOE incumbents.

Fluor thanked those who voted for her and was grateful for “the many individuals, including school board members, PTA/PFO members, Girl Scout leaders, teachers, and trade and labor unions, WIL (Women in Leadership and WAVE) who support public education.” Fluor said it was important for her supporters to stay engaged and attend OCBOE meetings.

Architect Christopher R. Ganiere earned 9% of the vote. In a message on his Instagram page this week he thanked the voters who supported him, “Thank you for being concerned about children and schools and the future of Orange County.”

In the OCBOE Trustee Area 4, Tim Shaw is leading his challengers with 50% of the vote. The closest opponent is Paulette Chaffee who trails with 32% of the vote. In Trustee Area 5, incumbent Lisa Sparks had 65% of the vote while challenger Sherine Smith, a former superintendent of the Laguna Beach Unified School District, had 35%. The seat covers Laguna Beach, San Clemente, and Mission Viejo.

In the race for Orange County Superintendent of Public Instruction, incumbent Al Mijares, Ph.D., is leading with 55% of the vote. Challenger Stefan Bean, Ed.D, a former head of Aspire charter schools, trailed with 45% of the vote. Bean was backed by the current OCBOE majority, which is currently involved in litigation with Mijares.

When asked about the reaction to this race, Board President Barke wrote in an email: “My colleagues and I will work collaboratively with the County Superintendent in the best interests of the students and families of Orange County.”

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Incumbents lead in races for O.C. Education posts