Readers comments: February 10, 2023
LaConte appointment was a good decision
There are those who claim that Aaron Peterson, rather than Hilary LaConte, should have been appointed to the Claremont school board. They think that he deserved the appointment because he came in second in the November election to represent Trustee Area 4.
That is a strange claim: the voters in Trustee Area 4 rejected him by a significant margin. So why should someone who lost the election, who was not acceptable to the majority of the district voters, be treated as if he has a right to the appointment? Given the election results, it is more sensible to find someone other than the loser to be appointed to the board to serve until the election next year. And there was just such a person out there, one who was not involved in the election hostilities and who had years of experience with school district issues. It was an intelligent decision.
Special election proponent: estimated cost is exaggerated
There are two points in the Claremont Unified School District Board of Education special election debate that I would like to bring to the forefront.
First, the incremental net cost to the district of holding the special election is not $273,000. This is because that seat by law must be filled by election. That election may occur now or in November 2024. The district pays for the election regardless of the timing. Holding the election now may be more expensive than holding it in November 2024, but that is speculation, and the Los Angeles County Registrar/Recorder’s office has so far ignored multiple requests by multiple people to provide the necessary facts. There are several reasons to believe that the estimate of $273,000 is overstated, and that the actual cost will be much less. These reasons are discussed in detail on the Claremont School Board Special Election Facebook group.
Secondly, a special election is far better for stability and continuity on the board. If we do not hold a special election, Ms. LaConte will serve only until December 2024, at which point a newly elected trustee will take over and serve a short term until December 2026. If we elect a trustee now, that person will be in office for nearly an entire term, until December 2026. The election is preferable as it puts one person in office for almost a full term, rather than two people for short terms. (Ms. LaConte stated that she would not seek election after her term ends.)
I urge my fellow residents of Trustee Area 4 to dig into the details and understand the reality, rather than be swayed by the fear mongering and hyperbolic claims of those opposed.
Email CUSDSpecialElection2023@gmail.com or join the Facebook group to get information about signing and/or circulating the petition.
Editor’s note: The L.A. County Registrar/Recorder’s office estimates the cost of the proposed special election at $273,000, which would be incurred entirely by Claremont Unified School District. This expenditure would be in addition to the district’s fees associated with the regularly scheduled November 2024 presidential election.
Disheartened by special election petition
I am disheartened by the petition currently circulating to hold an election for the interim term for Claremont Unified School District Board of Education’s Trustee Area 4 seat. Rather than providing “a voice of the people,” it will drain $250,000 from the District’s coffers. One issue off-cycle elections usually generate low voter turnout, which exaggerates the voices of ardent supporters and diminishes by comparison the voices of the broad electorate. While over 3,600 voters participated in the Trustee Area 4 election, I doubt that many will cast votes in a special election dictated by a mere 99 voters.
The appointment process was fair and is an approved process. Hilary LaConte clearly stated that she will not run in 2024, giving the voters of Trustee Area 4 the opportunity to vote in a regularly scheduled election designed to result in representative participation. Given the expense of a special election, would candidates supported by these petitioners take fiscal responsibility seriously? The four school board trustees made the fiscally responsible decision. They represent the other four districts in CUSD, which will also be negatively impacted by the actions of 99 voters in Trustee Area 4.
I encourage the concerned 99 citizens to participate in various school and district organizations to help CUSD address the current challenges rather than sign the petition. I look forward to robust debate in the 2024 election.
Trustee Area 4, Claremont
Retired Claremont teacher supports LaConte
I intended to give the following speech supporting Hilary LaConte for the position on the CUSD board of education:
“I was not able to make last week’s [January 18] meeting, but fully support the decision the board made. This interim position did not need an expensive election that would take money away from the classroom.
As a teacher, I was often asked to write letters of recommendation. I had options: say no, recommend, highly recommend, or highly recommend without reservation.
I highly recommend without reservation Hilary LaConte for this position.
This does not mean I think the person is perfect, nor that I have agreed with every stance, position or vote taken.
It does mean, based on what I know about that person, that that person is the right person for the job.
Others have expressed reasons why she is the best person for this position, mentioning her experience, valuable institutional knowledge, personal and professional commitment to and passion for CUSD, competency and character, and a litany of other reasons, but let me just focus on one: what she believes this place can be for students.
Young Hilary, the Vista kid, if you know her story, was given a safe place in the Claremont schools, a place where she was nurtured and supported, encouraged, and given the tools to become the person she is today. What she experienced — a commitment to the whole child — is the very commitment she brings to all her decisions. Agree or disagree with her, I always knew that Hilary’s commitment to the whole child, to every child, mattered more than anything. For many reasons, but above all, for her commitment to putting children first, I highly recommend without reservation, Hilary LaConte for the position before you this evening.”