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On Education: Taking a look at the citywide education races

March 07, 2013

The Glendale Unified school board race has once again attracted a competitive field of candidates — seven people are vying for three seats in the April 2 election.

It could be a case of deja vu. In 2009, incumbents Greg Krikorian and Joylene Wagner finished first and second, respectively, in the school board election, with newcomer Christine Walters nabbing the third spot. This year, all three are competing to keep their seats.

First elected in 2001, Krikorian is the most veteran member of the board. Last fall, the small business owner and father of five made a solid — although ultimately unsuccessful — run at the 43rd Assembly District seat.

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The mild-mannered Wagner, who is pursuing her third, four-year term, is sometimes lost in the scrum but serves as a welcome foil to more than one strong personality on the board.

Walters has just a single term of experience under her belt, but the accountant has already proven her worth in a district dealing with a fluctuating budget and tens of millions of dollars worth of Measure S-funded capital projects.

Still, there will be other familiar names on the ballot. Candidates Dan Cabrera and Jennifer Freemon both ran, and lost, for school board in 2011.

Cabrera is a Navy veteran and a former English teacher at Glendale High School. Freemon taught and coached in Glendale Unified for nearly a decade, and is married to a former Glendale Teachers Assn. president.

First-time candidate Armina Gharpetian, a dentist and mother of three Glendale Unified students, may further stiffen the competition.

The seventh candidate, Ali Sadri, appears to be running for school board in some sort of bizarre act of retaliation. In 2007, the district declined to renew a contract with his security firm, a fissure he focused on during a candidates’ forum last week.

The school board election can now boast a history of competitive fields. Counting 2013, there have been at least six candidates in the four most recent races.

I covered the 2011 election, which included a ballot eight people deep and Measure S, the $270-million school bond. At the time, I was struck by how well served the community was by a competitive race — challengers raised questions and forced issues not previously on the school board agenda. It also served to remind the incumbents that if they did not meet the expectations of the community, they’d be voted out of office.

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