Saugus Union School District board members chose David Powell to fill a vacant board seat Friday at a special governing board meeting.
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Powell replaces Stephen Winkler, who had his seat vacated due to allegations he was maintaining a residence outside of the district’s boundaries.
There were 16 12-minute candidate interviews in which the prospective candidates were asked eight questions on topics such as the Common Core Standards Initiative and the Local Control Funding Formula, as well as how the prospective board member would handle an upset parent.
Powell, who has four children, one who’s enrolled in the Saugus Union School District, is an instructor and program director at Cal Lutheran for the Master of Public Policy and Administration program.
“He not only attends board meetings, I think he would be a unifying force for our parents,” said board member Rose Koscielny.
The board members made their selections based on a matrix they scored based on the answers to the eight questions, said board President Paul De La Cerda.
The board members revealed who they voted for after each round, and discussed their decisions.
The winning candidate only needed three votes, according to the rules laid out at the beginning of the meeting. However, the final vote for Powell was unanimous.
Each board member selected three candidates in the first round. Both Julie Olsen and Patsy Ayala received two votes in the first round. And Eileen Connolly, a former board member, received three votes from her former colleagues on the dais. Powell was on all four ballots.
The goal was to create a top-3 list, but the tie between Ayala and Olsen meant they both went through to the next round.
In the second round, board member Judy Umeck voted for Powell and Connolly. Koscielny votes for Powell and Connolly. Doug Bryce voted for Powell and Ayala, as did De La Cerda.
Bryce then made a motion to nominate Powell after more discussion, which included Umeck expressing concern about a possible conflict of representing state and local government, because Ayala serves as a field representative for Assemblyman Scott Wilk. The board members also discussed Connolly’s experience as a school board member.
Ultimately, the board chose Powell because of his past involvement, skill set and experience in education, officials said.
Superintendent Joan Lucid said Powell volunteered with the district during the opening of West Creek Academy and spoke to the board about the closing of Bouquet Canyon Elementary.
An official with the state’s District Attorney’s Office validated the district’s concerns about Winkler in February by granting the district to proceed with a quo warranto proceeding, a legal process by which a governing body can remove an elected official.
The board then sought legal action against Winkler in Los Angeles County Superior Court, which was granted in June.
The Saugus Union School District was best served by the appointment process over the election, primarily due to the cost of an election, De La Cerda said. However, he still felt it allowed for the best candidate to have a chance at the job.
“(Cost) is primarily the main reason, but the appointment process, if it’s run correctly like this, you get to find a candidate who’s repsonsible and can fill the duties until the next election occurs,” he said. “In a year and a half, the public is going to be able to decide the next two candidates.”
Powell will be sworn in at a special meeting Aug. 5, De La Cerda said.
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Source: Santa Clarita News