We were thinking a few months ago that the pandemic would reduce the number of qualified people who wanted to run for local offices this fall. We were worried that the good candidates would be busy trying to save their businesses or educate their children from home, and wouldn’t have time to campaign for office.
Glad we were wrong about that. The Palo Alto school board race has drawn two incumbents and four excellent challengers. Picking three candidates won’t be easy for voters.
Two years ago, it seemed like there was a controversy every week involving the school board. The chaos factor in the district has gone down considerably in the past couple of years.
We attribute that to a board who listened to parents, even though that can become an all-consuming process, and systematically solved problems without creating new ones. With that in mind, we’re pleased to recommend Todd Collins and Jennifer DiBrienza for a second term.
Collins, an investment manager with an MBA from Harvard, has helped the district financial problems and he has sounded the alarm about enrollment trends. The district’s enrollment is falling, so proper management of the taxpayer’s money is a must.
DiBrienza, a teacher, brings instructional expertise to the board as well as the perspective of a parent with children currently in the district.
Collins, DiBrienza and the rest of the board deserve credit for improving the mental health services available to students. Though the job isn’t done, they’ve taken the right steps to help students get counseling while lessening the stigma about seeking such services.
Four good newcomers
The four remaining candidates have solid credentials and fresh ideas. It was inspiring to interview them and check their backgrounds.
After much soul-searching our third choice is Jesse Ladomirak.
She never considered running for school board until the lockdown began and her four children had to participate in distance learning.
Ladomirak felt like many parents that the distance learning program came up short, and the district wasn’t responsive enough to parents.
“If you don’t have parents on the board, people really dialed into the lived experience of children and families, it’s very hard to look beyond a staff report you are being given or the self-selected group of parents writing in and attending board meetings,” she said.
A voice for parents
Ladomirak is seeking to become the voice of parents.
With a law degree from Berkeley, she originally was an attorney in private practice whose firm advised public agencies. So she’s experienced with the public sector side of the law.
Today she is co-owner and CFO of a home remodeling comnpany, Teevan Restoration, which gives her the private sector experience that is always necessary on a public board.
We quizzed Ladomirak on a variety of topics involving the school district, and she was up on all of the issues even though she said she only became interested in running for the board earlier this year.
She won’t have much of a learning curve if elected.
We know that Palo Alto voters carefully consider their choices for school board. We encourage our readers to do their homework and learn as much as they can about these six excellent candidates. We think that if readers do their own due diligence, they’ll agree with us that Collins, DiBrienza and Ladomirak are the best choices for school board.