By Jason KUROSU
Upcoming elections reflect a few longtime incumbents moving on from their current positions over the next two years, while a number of new candidates are set to campaign for seats in state and local government.
Locally, two political figures from Glendale will be vying for Mike Gatto’s assembly seat in California’s 43rd district, Glendale City Council member Laura Friedman and Glendale City Clerk Ardashes Kassakhian. Gatto will be termed out in 2016.
Gatto hasn’t decided on what the future holds for him.
“I’ve been asked by my supporters to run for a number of different positions,” Gatto said. “But I find that politicians who are always gladhanding, always looking towards their next job, very annoying. I’m just focusing on being the best public servant that I can be.”
Carol Liu’s 25th district seat will also be open in the state senate. Former assembly member Anthony Portantino and Pasadena Vice Mayor Jacque Robinson are vying for the seat. Portantino previously hinted at running in 2012 but bowed out. Robinson is currently campaigning for mayor of Pasadena.
A number of candidates will be running for two open seats on the Glendale Unified School District Board of Education. Nayiri Nahabedian has stated that she will be running to retain her seat on the board, a position she has held since 2007. However, Nahabedian can currently only run as a write-in candidate after missing the nomination deadline of Tuesday, Feb. 3 at 5:30 p.m. Nahabedian did say though that the Sagebrush territory transfer, Common Core standards and reduction of class sizes were among the most important issues she felt the board is facing. Nahabedian also said that the district needs to work on improving communication with other school districts and take care to make smart, financial choices.
“We’re simultaneously underfunded and receiving new dollars,” said Nahabedian. “There are critical choices that need to be made for the well being of our students.”
The other available seat currently belongs to Sandra Russell, who was appointed to the board of education in October. Russell, who was appointed after Mary Boger resigned, will not be running to retain her seat.
Kevin Cordova-Brookey and Jennifer Freemon have officially qualified to run for the two available seats on the board of education.
Cordova-Brookey formerly sought the appointment that ultimately went to Sandra Russell. Cordova-Brookey is currently on the Glendale Educational Foundation Board of Directors.
“I think the board does a good job of allowing the community to come to board meetings and express their concerns during the open forum, but I know we can do better,” said Cordova-Brookey. “We need a school board that is going to be more proactive about being out in our community attending PTA meetings, conducting forums, attending city and town council meetings, talking to and most of all listening to what their concerns are and making sure we are putting the students first.”
Cordova-Brookey said if elected, he would focus on ensuring teachers receive assistance to implement the Common Core standards and settle the Sagebrush territory debate so that parents can freely choose where their children can attend school.
Freemon ran for the board of education in 2013 and is the coordinator of Children and Family Ministries at First United Methodist Church of Glendale. Freemon also previously taught at Toll Middle School and Hoover High School.
Freemon said that the district should work on ensuring that Common Core implementation works as intended through proper teacher development and also help ensure that students and parents know what coursework is required for college admissions. Freemon believes many of the issues there stem from insufficient communication between schools and families, which has led to less outreach from the school district and less input from the parents district-wide.
“As an educator and parent, my strengths lie in curriculum and teaching,” said Freemon. “I bring to the GUSD board the ability to help evaluate and implement Common Core, work with teachers to improve the classroom experience for students, and a strong understanding of how to connect with parents to help them more strongly connect to their school and to the district. I anticipate focusing on increasing family and community involvement in our schools and district and working on increasing achievement at the high school so that more students are eligible for four year colleges as they graduate from high school.”
Two more candidates, Vahik Satoorian and Todd Hunt, turned in election paperwork on Tuesday, though they have yet to be verified for the April ballot.
GUSD board members will be voted on during the city’s April 7 election.
On the state level, Barbara Boxer announced she would not seek re-election in 2016 after over 30 years as a member of Congress. The frontrunner for the position is Attorney General Kamala Harris, the only candidate to formally announce her campaign.
However, several other names have been linked to the seat, including former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Due to California’s nonpartisan blanket primary, any number of Democrats is expected to vie for the spot.
Other Democratic candidates, such as Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom and California State Treasurer John Chiang, expressed interest earlier, but have since bowed out of the running.
L.A. County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich will also stepping down, after newly enacted term limits will see the long tenured supervisor termed out in 2016. Antonovich has served on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors since 1980. Antonovich has publicly supported his chief deputy, Kathryn Barger-Leibrich, to succeed him.