I decided today to pull papers for Area One of the Orange County Board of Education. The only candidate who has thus far qualified for the ballot is Ken Nguyen, who is a member of the Santa Ana Parks And Recreation Commission. Nguyen appears to be a grandfather and I believe he is a businessman.
Hammond is an extreme social conservative who recently dropped out of the running for the 69th Assembly District. His late departure from that race left the OC GOP without a candidate in that contest, although candidates can file for that seat through tomorrow, Wednesday, at 5 pm. Hammond appears to be a grandfather too.
One other candidate pulled papers today, Eleazar Elizondo. He is a Democrat who has run for the Santa Ana City Council before, losing to Mike Garcia in 2006, according to Smart Voter. He also ran for the O.C. Board of Supervisors in 2000, losing to Chuck Smith, according to Smart Voter. At the time he claimed to be a teacher in the 4th and 5th grades and he said he once worked for liberal U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer. According to his Linkedin Page, he is now in the PR business.
Area One of the O.C. Board of Education includes three school districts in Santa Ana, Garden Grove and Fountain Valley. Close to 97,000 Hispanic voters reside in the district, according to the O.C. Department of Education. There are just under 90,000 Non-Hispanic White voters in the district and 64,367 Non-Hispanic Asian voters, as well as 6,194 Non-Hispanic African-American voters.
Why am I running? I chose to pull papers because of the lack of candidates in this race, for a seat that was vacated by the incumbent, Long Pham. He is now running instead for the 72nd Assembly District.
I was also very disappointed in Hammond’s decision to run a campaign based on attacking homosexuals. Haven’t they suffered enough? When the voters tossed former O.C. Board of Education Trustee Alexandria Coronado, after she made anti-homosexual statements, I thought folks got the message. I guess not.
All of my kids have succeeded in public schools. My son Joey had the highest GPA last year as a senior at Godinez Fundamental High School. He is now at UCLA. My daughter Becky graduated a few years ago from Santa Ana High School. She completed a fashion degree at the prestigious Fashion Institute for Design and Merchandising (FIDM) She is now working in fashion design at a subsidiary of the Gap, called 1969. My son Jimmy is a sophomore at Godinez. He is a voracious reader who is earning straight A’s at Godinez Fundamental High School. And my son Jacob is in third grade at John Muir Fundamental Elementary School, where he is in the GATE program and the math club.
While I support options such as Charter Schools, and am myself a graduate of Don Bosco Tech, a Catholic High School, I believe that our kids can get a decent education at our public schools. However I also believe that we need to reduce waste in our schools, and we need to stand up for parents, whose rights are often overlooked by school boards that lack parents. I am also not a fan of gimmickry in public education, but I do support the use of new technology.
Our teachers do a great job for the most part, but there is too much intrustion from the state and federal governments. And too often our schools set aside the arts and music, which I believe are an important component of public education. I played three musical instruments and took art classes when I was in elementary and middle school. I also worked in graphic design when I was a young man.
We also need to work harder to increase graduation rates in some of our troubled school districts, and reduce the dropout rate. Our kids need to know we have their back, which is why I also support the Dream Act.
As a child of immigrants, from Mexico, I know how much immigrants contribute to our economy. I grew up doing janitorial work with my father. That taught me to value hard work. Like many kids in Santa Ana I grew up speaking Spanish and learned English in school, in full immersion classes. I still speak Spanish today and I thank God for that. It comes in handy every day.
I am an advocate for technical and other career oriented schools. I have been a teacher at Cerritos College since 2003, for a state approved apprenticeship program for painters. Under my leadership we added an English as Second Language component to our curriculum last year. I am so proud of my students – many of them have excelled in the ESL portion of our classes and are now able to converse in English.
I have been married to my wife Camille for 25 years. She recently returned to school and is going to finish her bachelor’s degree this year. I am so proud of her! I too finished my college education as an adult. I earned a B.S. in Business Management, from the University of Phoenix, and an MBA from the Keller Graduate University of Management. My kids saw how hard I had to work to finish those degrees while changing diapers and cooking (yes, I am the cook at home). I am glad to see that they are excelling in education. What more can a father ask of his children?
In my spare time I serve on the board of directors of the Northeast Santa Ana Little League and I assist my wife, who heads up a cub scout pack. My wife and I are both also members of the UCLA Parent Council. And I am the editor of the popular New Santa Ana blog, as well as the new OC Politics Blog.
I will be turning in my nomination signatures tomorrow. I humbly ask for your vote in the June primary.