A crowded field for Monterey schools

UPDATE: Late Thursday, the Monterey Peninsula school board selected Veronica “Ronnie” Miramontes as Hill’s replacement.

By Royal Calkins

A remarkably strong field of candidates is seeking appointment to an interim seat on the Monterey Peninsula Unified School District board, replacing Jon Hill, who is moving out of the area.

The 10 candidates are scheduled to be interviewed by the school board at a public meeting starting at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the district’s service center, 540 Canyon Del Rey in Del Rey Oaks. The board is scheduled to make its selection after the interviews. The person selected will represent Trustee Area 3 in Monterey until the November election and will be eligible to run for a full term then.

While many of the applicants have significant backgrounds in education, two of the better known candidates have focused much of their careers on labor issues, from opposite perspectives.

Ron Chesshire was a Carpenters Union executive for decades on the Peninsula but made a name for himself as a member of the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District board.

Kevin Dayton is a public policy analyst and taxpayer representative who has worked for contractor organizations trying to eliminate union preferences in government construction projects. He also has written critically about efforts to include labor history in public school curriculum and has served on the district’s bond advisory committee.

Most of the other applicants have worked in education and have been heavily involved in committee work and other activities related to education. Their resumes and application forms are attached to the agenda and can be found here.

The other applicants are:

  • Erik K. Bull, a teacher at North Monterey County High School who founded the Monterey Organization of Science Educators.
  • Leigh Cambra, who teaches at Carmel High School.
  • Robert J. Grimes, a retired Naval Postgraduate School instructor.
  • College student Garret Hambaro.
  • Jennifer Haydu, owner of Evolution Transformative Arts.
  • Veronica Miramontes of Restorative Justice Partners Inc.
  • Susan Morse, a retired CSU-Monterey Bay and Monterey County Office of Education instructor.
  • Elizabeth K. Robinson, a copy editor and former instructor at the Naval Postgraduate School.

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Royal Calkins

About Royal Calkins

Contributing writer Royal Calkins has worked for newspapers in Santa Cruz, Monterey and Fresno. For the past couple of years, he has produced a local news and commentary blog, the Monterey Bay Partisan. He can be reached at calkinsroyal@gmail.com.

4 thoughts on “A crowded field for Monterey schools

  1. I find the attached article penned by Mr. Dayton deeply troubling from a public school board candidate, especially for a district at impasse in labor negotiations with MPUSD teachers and the organization to which all MPUSD teachers pay dues to to represent them. https://laborissuessolutions.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Labor-History-in-Public-Schools-Unions-Get-Em-While-Theyre-Young.pdf

  2. Greetings, People of Monterey, the Monterey Peninsula Unified School District, and all readers.

    Thank you Mr. Calkins for providing some background to the public about my work and principles.

    1. I stand by my position that state-mandated “labor history” in public schools (an idea originating in the Los Angeles Unified School District) is an inappropriate intrusion of special interest politics into the classroom. Students already learn about the role of labor unions in American history in the California History-Social Studies curriculum. Labor History is another mandate from the state legislature that distracts from purposes such as learning how to read, write, speak, and calculate. I suspect the vast majority of parents in the district aren’t interested in this distraction, and I’m not sure many teachers want to add it as another imposition on their heavy workload.

    2. Regarding teachers’ unions, I’m sorry to see the impasse. That happens sometimes with collective bargaining as each side positions itself for maximum leverage in negotiations. A school board member, however, serves The People (often forgotten) and doesn’t take sides with the unions or the administration. My thinking is that the district should pay teachers as much as possible while still being able to PAY THE BILLS. A board member should not be taking one side or the other to please various factions. Financial insolvency and takeover by the state is an unacceptable option for me.

    3. The critic above is a leader of the city’s opposition movement to stadium lights at the Monterey High School football field. While I want to see reasonable mitigation for lights (now being developed as part of a $250,000 environmental impact report), I support night football at Monterey High School and I support high school football.

    4. These are examples of the tough, contentious issues that the school board will be facing, not to mention declining enrollment, school closures, and financial distress if there is a sharp recession (imagine the hit on district families working in hospitality and tourism) or closure of the military bases.

    5. If I’m not selected, oh well, the representatives of The People decided someone else has the fortitude and wisdom to govern under these realities. There are ten candidates and one of them presumably has the best answers to the future of the school district.

  3. Royal,

    You have captured the essence of why citizens would rather be appointed than run for office. How short your memory is. There is a third option, and that is to run as a Write-In candidate. You name is not on the ballot, you do not have a candidates statement, and the only official benefit of that option is that you do not have to pay the filing fee to run for office. But it does work…but seldom, if ever. Your friend Karl serving his 9th year on the Carmel Unified School District Board of Education.

  4. The Monterey County Health Department confirmed the county’s h death due to complications from Covid-19 via a Twitter post today, June 14. The tweet would only say the victim “was an adult with no significant health issues. No other information will be released.”

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