Malibu School Board Candidates Fall to Santa Monica Incumbents

UPDATED 5:30 a.m.: Voters select three incumbents out of six candidates for the SMMUSD Board of Education and approve Measure ES, which is meant to provide a portion of $1 billion of needed improvements at schools in Santa Monica and Malibu.

The incumbents took an early lead and held onto it overnight over Malibu challengers in the race for three seats on the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Board of Education.

The earliest results, based on absentee ballots, showed incumbents Ben Allen, Maria Leon-Vazquez and Jose Escarce in the lead. More results were not released until the early morning Wednesday, which confirmed the incumbents' victory.

Dense fog delayed reporting of the results on Tuesday night, according to county officials. Helicopters carrying ballots to be counted in Norwalk were grounded late Tuesday at the Puente Hills Mall in the City of Industry.

With so few ballots counted, candidates were hesitant to speak out on the early results.

“I hope that my returns stay the way they are,” Allen said just before 10 p.m. Tuesday. “And I hope the Prop. 30 returns get better. Honestly I think it [not passing] will make life on the school board very difficult.”

Malibu candidates Craig Foster, Karen Farrer and Seth Jacobson trailed behind, but on Tuesday night Foster was only 100 votes away from Escarce, who called the race "unpredictable" after the first round of results came out.

"I’m only going to wait and see what happens," Escarce said. "... It will go one way or the other."

Foster remained optimistic on Tuesday night.

"I am happy that with so few votes in, it is pretty close," Foster said. "We hope as more ballots are counted we gain ground."

Farrer said Tuesday night she hoped to learn more when additional results come out.

"I have a feeling that what the preliminary results look like are similar to the final," Farrer said.

Those preliminary results did turn out to be a mirror of the final results with the incumbents gaining ground as the results trickled in.

Measure ES, a $385 million bond measure that will go toward facility and technology improvements, won handily with 67.7 percent of the vote. It needed 55 percent approval to pass.

Before the final resulsts were in, Allen said he was encouraged by the vote.

"I'm just happy it is looking this strong at this stage," he said.


Candidate Votes % Ben Allen 17,889 24.57 Karen Farrer 9,305 12.78 Craig Foster 11,653 16.01 Seth Jacobson 6,859 9.42 Jose Escarce 12,803 17.59 Maria Leon-Vazquez 14,294 19.63


Measure ES Votes % Yes 21,981 67.73 No 10,472 32.27

ORIGINAL POST: Malibu voters will head to the polls Tuesday to decide who will fill three seats on the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Board of Education.

Three Malibu challengers, Craig Foster, Karen Farrer and Seth Jacobson, are hoping to unseat incumbents Ben Allen, Jose Escarce and Maria Leon-Vazquez.

All three Malibu candidates, which are running on a reform slate, have said they will task the superintendent with increasing student achievement in schools across the district, reduce class sizes and close the achievement gap between different demographic groups. They have said they will pay for their ideas by reducing the administrative bureaucracy and creating an independent Malibu School District.

Allen has said he will set high academic expectations and standards, look to preserve programs that are at the core of the district such as art and athletics and address the needs of both Malibu and Santa Monica.

Leon-Vazquez has said she will work to create a culture of inclusion and trust among all families, modernize school facilities, increase revenue through district-wide fundraising and close the achievement gap.

Escarce has said he will seek to preserve programs while balancing the budget, promote teachers' professional development and strengthen intervention programs.

Voters will also decide whether to approve a $385 million bond measure that will go toward facility and technology improvements. The measure needs 55 percent of voter support to pass.

If Measure ES passes, 20 percent of the funds are already slated to go toward Malibu schools.

Measure ES is meant to provide a portion of more than $1 billion of needed improvements at schools in Santa Monica and Malibu, according to assessments by the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District. 

Projects for Measure ES funding will be selected through a district-wide facility assessment and draft Master Plan, according to SMMUSD Superintendent Sandra Lyon.

"Passage of these three measures will ensure the resources that our local schools need," Lyon said in a letter to the community on Oct. 11.

In Malibu, about $70 million is needed to upgrade science labs, parts of the auditorium, an expanded outdoor eating and lunch shelters, gym and locker room upgrades, and mechanical infrastructure upgrades at Malibu High School.

Nearly $500 million is needed for improvements at Santa Monica High School.

At elementary schools across the district about $93 million is needed to replace temporary classrooms with permanent ones.

Hans Laetz November 07, 2012 at 02:26 PM
Measure ES, with 100 percent: ES - SCHOOL IMPROVEMENT BONDS - YES 21,981 67.73% NO 10,472 32.27% School board race, 100 percent: BEN ALLEN 17,889 24.57 MARIA LEON-VAZQUEZ 14,294 19.63 JOSE ESCARCE 12,803 17.59 CRAIG FOSTER 11,653 16.01 KAREN FARRER 9,305 12.78 SETH JACOBSON 6,859 9.42 Congratulations to Seth, Karen and Craig, who were not only up against SMRR but a city seven times larger than Malibu. They did much better than could be reasonably hoped.
Craig Strachan November 07, 2012 at 03:39 PM
They did well, and running was the honorable thing for them to do. I think it was Craig Foster who said you can't complain about lack of Malibu representation on the board unless candidates from Malibu are willing to run. I just wonder where this result leaves unification. What inference will the County Board of education be entitled to draw from these results?
Ann Tomkins November 07, 2012 at 04:06 PM
I'm happy that both Measure ES and Prop. 30 passed as it will be good for the kids. However, the failure to elect even one representative from Malibu to the school board despite three excellent candidates leads to the conclusion that it may be time for Malibu to leave the district. Taxation without representation doesn't work well. If we can't solve the representation issue then we need to figure out how to split the district in a way that will ensure adequate resources for the children in Santa Monica and Malibu. Thank you Craig, Karen and Seth for your efforts.
Terry November 07, 2012 at 04:23 PM
u all did a great job for malibu. you can be very proud of your accomplishments
Beate Nilsen November 08, 2012 at 10:29 PM
Re. "based on absentee ballots," Santa Monica City Hall sends faulty voting materials to Malibu: The City Clerk’s office discovered the error when a Malibu voter called and compared the two documents, said Sarah Gorman, Santa Monica’s City Clerk. http://www.malibutimes.com/news/article_bbf87d2e-2370-11e2-9cf9-0019bb2963f4.html


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