Inglewood, CA — As the country struggles to break through the economic shroud that has engulfed so many people, Inglewood voters (48,426 in the city and 52,743 in the school district) are set to go to the polls to elect city council members for two seats and school board members for three offices.

Nine candidates are vying for the two council posts including the two incumbents, while 11 individuals–including two incumbents–are seeking spots on the school board.

The incumbent in school board seat Number 3 is unable to run because of the three-term limitation, consequently this race is wide open.

Candidates must secure 50% plus one vote in order to win in the primary, otherwise the top two vote-getters will meet face-to-face in a June 9 run-off election.

Below find information about the candidate’s positions on the issues they think are most important.

City Council Seat Number 1

Incumbent Daniel K. Tabor is battling three opponents including long-time city commissioner George Dotson. The two ended up in a heated battle in 2007, which Tabor won by less than 50 votes. The other candidate seeking the seat include Stafford V. Hamlin and Mike Stevens.

Dotson is a long-time Inglewood city commissioner who has owned his own business since 1972. He believes the most important issues in the city are: Sound proofing, cleaning the streets of debris; and fighting voter fraud. Dotson believes that forcing residents to resolve all code enforcement issues first before helping them obtain home sound proofing is wrong, and intends to change that. He also pledged to work with the Federal Aviation Administration to secure funding to cover the cost of soundproofing homes impacted by airplane noise.

Dotson also believes it is wrong that residents are charged, when they call to have abandoned or discarded furniture removed from on or near their property.

Mike Stevens wants to focus on revitalizing the middle class in Inglewood. He proposes making the city a shopping destination point that will draw travelers and local residents with higher levels of income. Stevens believes outlets stores are one way to do this. He also thinks bringing a college or university to the city will help stimulate employment.

The candidate believes a small business incubator program could help entrepreneurs by providing mentoring and other assistance.

Stevens also wants to ensure residents are more involved in public hearings, and as a councilman would notify citizens of the many meetings held on issues that directly impact their quality of life.
Tabor, the incumbent city councilman, also identified residential sound insulation as a key issue, and said he expanded Inglewood’s programs so that more residents are eligible for help. He takes credit for quickly hiring a qualified construction project manger, to jump start the program.
Tabor said he is fighting to hire an ombudsman, who will help homeowners that have code violations, get the soundproofing they need.

Economic development is also a top priority for Tabor, who said among the efforts he pushed was implementing a plan to revitalize downtown Inglewood by improving lighting, acquiring land to facilitate development and proposing to build housing, parking and bring new stores to the city’s commercial center.

City Council Seat Number 2

Three candidates are campaigning for this seat including incumbent Judy Dunlap, who is the longest standing member of the city governing body. The others seeking this office include Joseph A. Soto and Austin F. Williams. Donald A. Clytus pull out from the race.

Dunlap, a veteran of 16 years on the council, believes that it is critical for the city to take full advantage of the federal stimulus package by having as many “shovel ready” projects on tap as possible. But more than that, she feels it is critical that local residents and businesses get the largest share of the contracts that will come out of this funding.

A long-time opponent of burdensome fees, Dunlap believes the high fees Inglewood homeowners pay may be keeping them from improving their homes, and that a reduction in these rates might lead to more remodeling activities and potentially more local jobs. Finally, the councilwoman is working on an ordinance to place a moratorium on eviction of tenants from bank-foreclosed properties.

Williams pegs more economic development, youth advocacy, crime prevention and a push to rid the district of the debris that is scattered about as key concerns. He wants to take an inventory of the vacant lots and conduct a survey of zoning as part of developing a five-year plan to upgrade district shops.

As creator of the Safe Haven Initiative and the Adopt-A-School Program in Inglewood, Williams said the city also needs to have a better working relationship with schools and the other agencies that keep youth off the street and out of gangs.
Inglewood Unified School District

School Board Seat Number 1

Incumbent Arnold C. Butler is facing challenges from three competitors for this seat–Karen Y. Hamilton, Beverly A. Hutchinson and Joyce L. Randall.

Butler, the son and grandson of educators, has represented the Inglewood/Ladera community four years on the school board and believes replacing the superintendent; rebuilding the administrative team; strengthening the curriculum; completing the Measure K building projects; fiscal accountability and inviting real parental involvement are needed.

Among his concerns about mismanagement of district funds are the improper use of a special revolving account; improper demolition of district buildings; improper use of district money.
Hamilton, a contracts administrator and former member of the Measure K Citizen’s Oversight Committee, believes that it is critical to ensure that the maximum amount of resources are directed to students, teachers and parents. She also wants to increase parental involvement in Inglewood schools by making meeting times more accessible, providing day care and increasing communication with schools.

Randall, an educator, believes the three biggest issues facing the Inglewood Unified are fiscal mismanagement, student empowerment and staff empowerment.

She believes the board members must conduct business in the interest of children and in a way that forwards the mission of the school district. She considers the infighting among current board members one of the key barriers preventing children in the district from getting a better education.

Known as Rev. Randall, this candidate also wants to increase the rate of young people going to college in part by replicating district wide a program called Advancement Via Individualized Determination (AVID). She also believes teachers deserve appreciation and respect.

School Board Seat Number 2

Three candidates are seeking this seat including the incumbent Trina Williams and challengers Mary Bueno and Carliss Richardson-McGhee.

Bueno and Williams have faced off once before, and their roles were reversed–Bueno was the incumbent, appointed to fill a vacancy, and Williams was the challenger.

Bueno. Lack of transparency within the school district is a major concern for Bueno particularly in relation to the low number of instructors qualified to teach college-prep courses, and inform parents and students about resources are being deployed.

She also identified determining why the district is losing students as another key need. Bueno believes 700-1,000 young people leave the district each year because their academic needs are not being met.

Other issues she pointed out include the district’s police department being in disarray, and the district working without a director of safety for more than a year; and claims of mismanaged and misspent Measure K funds.

Richardson-McGhee. From preschooler to college students, helping young people obtain an education has been Richardson-McGhee’s life for years. She said the key priorities should be strengthening the school curriculum, decreasing the high school dropout rate, increasing Academic Performance Index scores, updating text books and providing responsible personnel to handle school safety.

Additionally, she believes it is crucial to create partnerships between parents, students and the community. She wants to provide a resource center accessible to all parents and offer teachers more professional development as well as increase the number of educators qualified to teach college-prep courses in high schools. Finally, she wants more Head Start sites opened.

Williams. Expanding services for English learners and their families is a top priority with Williams, who also wants to make dual-language programs available to all parents so that anyone can use district resources to learn a new language for free. She believes this will increase communication among different ethnic groups.

Her experiences with the Inglewood School police prompted Williams to target rolling out a district-wide mentoring program, and she is actively working to secure a Safe Schools, Healthy Students grant that will enable the district to expand its prevention and intervention programs to include student hotline programs, referral services and student leadership academies.

School Board Seat Number 3

After serving three terms, incumbent Alice Grigsby can no longer run, which leaves this school board seat wide open to bring a new face onto the governing board. Four candidates have thrown their hats into the ring–Rene F. Dorn, Alena Cindy Giardina, Brandon Keil and Maria D. Olmedo.

Dorn. Some of the key issues are: The district budget; safety in and around the schools; student achievement; increased parental involvement; lack of support for teachers and classified staff; transparency; ensuring that the correct information is properly and timely disseminated to parents and the community; and the need to bring back programs such as fine arts, athletics and vocational education.

Bringing more resources, such as computers and audio-visual equipment, to classrooms which will help teachers expose students to global activities and programs instead of only what is found in textbooks.

Giardina: School safety, financial accountability and transparency and opposition to mayoral takeover of the schools are the key issues this candidate sees. She will use her 30 years experience as a juvenile probation officer to help reduce crime in the school. To reinvigorate public schools, she wants to find new income sources by partnering with hospitals, police departments and the aerospace industry to development top-flight magnet schools.

Giardina opposes mayoral control of school funding, contracting or employment directly or indirectly.

Kiel has developed a platform he believes will address all the issues changing the Inglewood Unified. Progressive Leadership in Education promotes a progressive level of accountability; defining leadership in a new era of advocacy; and promoting a core curriculum that increases the education foundation.

The offspring of two local educators, Keil himself currently is director of the program Middle Ground, which works on character building for sixth to eighth grade students at La Tijera Middle School. He wants to bring what he has done one-on-one to the entire district.

Olmedo: A former Inglewood Unified student, Olmedo identified five issues she would like to improve–declining student enrollment; enhancing educational programs that provide life-long skills, especially for special needs youngsters; extending and expanding parent and community partnerships; encouraging diversity culturally, socially and academically; and raising student achievement.

Olmedo wants to understand all the reasons youngsters are leaving the district and then find programs and resources that would interest and motivate students, families and teachers to stay.
She also wants to proactively increase exposure to diversity through performing and visual arts, language study, more clubs and organizations on campus and building partnerships with multicultural and intercultural organizations in the community.