HAYWARD — With three seats up in the coming election, at least one newcomer will win a four-year term on Hayward's school board as two incumbents seek to hold their seats from seven challengers.

Board member Grant Peterson is not seeking re-election.

These candidate profiles are based on a Daily Review questionnaire sent to all hopefuls, as well as two well-attended candidate forums.

Rick Bartholomew

With a strong union background and ties to the existing board, Bartholomew said he would be an ideal candidate to further foster a "common ground among the three partners for what is best for the students, teachers and district."

He said the implementation of Measure I funds is the key task at hand.

"Our next challenge is to prove to the citizens they made the right choice and give them what we promised," he said. "That will build trust between the community and the district which we need to secure financial stability and future bond measures."

Bartholomew said a "perfect storm" hit Mt. Eden recently, with the police department disbanding its gang task force and a lack of campus resources, resulting in fights and gang activity. He would like to see a zero-tolerance policy regarding violence and bullying, and early intervention when kids are young to "stop it in its early stages."

Jeff Cook


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Incumbent Jeff Cook said he has the experience to deal with the fiscal realities that the district faces: State cuts mean they will have to tackle another $17 million deficit in the immediate future.

Cook said that's something he already dealt with in the district's last financial and managerial crisis six years ago.

"The board needs someone with board and business experience," he said. "I know what it took to make those tough decisions and what it will take again."

He said that it takes awhile to learn the ropes and that "now is not the time to have four new inexperienced board members."

Cook said he is seeking re-election for the same reasons he decided to run in the first place

"I saw mismanagement six years ago and I was the first to demand the resignation of the superintendent," Cook said. "Now the state has pulled the rug out from under us and imposed an even worse budget crisis."

Simon Eduardar Flores

Flores said current leadership is "poor, and has been poor" and that the board caters to the wishes of the administration.

"All they do is say 'Yes, yes yes' to the superintendent. I've had it, and that's why I'm running," he said. "We can make a change, but it has to be a hardline change."

He said money is wasted on outside consultants and top administration.

"It's way out of line," he said. "A lot is spent, little by little, and it should go to more practical uses."

Regarding the current budget crisis, Flores said the board "should have known about the possibility that they would not be getting funds."

He compared Hayward schools to Fremont, where he was a trustee for the New Haven district. He said Hayward's problems are a result of board mismanagement.

"They allowed the administration to make the district what it is," he said.

Sarah Gonzales

Incumbent Sarah Gonzales said that she will continue to improve the district as she has done since being elected five years ago.

She pointed to her work to get through the last fiscal crisis and rising test scores as evidence that she is an effective board member.

"We now have six schools that are at the brink of reaching 800 on the state's Academic Performance Index," she said. "In 2003, we had no schools even close to that API score."

She said that she has demonstrated "leadership and accountability" during her term, and helped achieve necessary goals of selecting a competent superintendent, approving and monitoring a budget, and improving facilities by putting forth the successful Measure I bond.

Gonzales would like to foster more dialog with the community by holding quarterly meetings at a high school, and would hold the superintendent and administrators accountable for improving communications.

Maribel Heredia

Heredia said that schools are in a crisis and she is running to "do whatever it takes to get our students back on track."

She emphasizes closing the achievement gap among subgroups of students so all can meet federal No Child Left Behind standards.

"Stop the wasteful spending on high-priced consultants with no proven results and invest in servicing our students with things that are proven to improve achievement: Hiring more teachers, reduce class sizes and provide a quality after-school tutoring program for students that need extra support," she said.

Heredia decided to run after trying to solve problems by going to the current board.

"I'm part of the community that went to the board with concerns, only to have them fall on deaf ears," she said. "Our children deserve better than this."

Chuck Horner

Horner, who made an unsuccessful bid for a board seat in 2005, is again running because he said he'd be the kind of facilitator that is currently lacking.

"Someone needs to get in there who can advocate for the community, understand unions, and bring everyone together," he said.

Horner said that while in the military, he served on a panel that successfully defused racial tensions in an aircraft carrier group, and that he'd use similar techniques to get the administration, board, teachers and community on the same page.

He said that while halting school violence is his main priority, there is a lack of pride in Hayward schools that needs to be addressed not only for better education, but also for a better city.

"The trustees don't own the schools, the principals don't own the schools," he said. "They are our schools and we're having these problems because we disowned them. We need to take them back."

Dianne McDermott

McDermott said she'd bring a fresh, independent and unbiased perspective to a board that needs to figure out where bond monies should be spent, continue to raise test scores and address a high dropout rate.

"When students are dropping out of school it impacts the whole community and has a residual effect on crime and gang activity," she said.

McDermott would push for early intervention programs as well as greater police presence on campus.

"We need to get kids involved in sports and clubs," she said, "out of gang activities and out of the influence of other students who might not have the same goals in mind."

She said that budget problems are something that everyone deals with on some level, and that "all stakeholders need to get involved. Everyone needs to work together to solve (the current fiscal shortfall). It's not something the board can do by themselves."

Araceli Orozco

Orozco said she is in touch with what the district's needs are because of her work with various community advocate organizations, and that "there are a lot of problems that no one wants to address."

Orozco echoed Heredia's complaints about the board not being responsive when she went to them as head of Families in Action, a parent group that formed last year with the goal of improving the district.

She said they felt pushed away, and that the district should embrace community groups that want to help instead of shun them.

She also said the current board is not in touch with student needs.

"We need to identify what kids need at an early age, for an early head start," she said. "The board needs people who know those needs."

Orozco said that by working with the administration and security at Tennyson High, she has seen the creation of a safer campus, and that could be used as a model at other high schools.

Luis Reynoso

Reynoso is running on a reform platform on the grounds that the current board is incompetent and wasteful.

"The board is a monarchy — you talk to them and you're addressing (superintendent) Dale Vigil," he said. "It's time for a change, and if we want change, why vote for the same people or someone who they endorse?"

Reynoso said he would emphasize public participation in board meetings, and go out of his way to educate residents how to get items on the agenda.

He said safety in schools and curbing violence is his top priority, but lamented "the cesspool of job politics" that he said goes on within the district.

"The hire and fire process in the improvement of schools should not be hindered by the three-headed dragon of corruption, collusion and nepotism," he said.

He said that wasteful spending has resulted in "bondinitis" — the board using a bond to solve fiscal problems of its own making.

A synopsis of the candidates running for the two-year trustee seat can be found online at www.insidebayarea.com/dailyreview

Eric Kurhi covers Hayward. Reach him at ekurhi@bayareanewsgroup.com or 510-293-2473.

Rick Bartholomew
Party: Democrat
Age: 60
Education: Tennyson High, Chabot College
Background: Railroad signal maintainer
Jeff Cook (Incumbent)
Party: None given
Age: 59
Education: Castro Valley High; University of San Francisco; St. Mary's College
Background: Litigation manager
Simon Eduardar Flores
Party: Democrat
Age: 56
Education: Sunset High; Chabot College; San Diego State University; Cal State Hayward
Background: Former teacher, New Haven trustee
Sarah Gonzales (Incumbent)
Party: Democrat
Age: 58
Education: San Dieguito High School, Encinitas; San Diego State University; Harvard University
Background: Retired associate professor, assistant superintendent, principal, teacher
Maribel Heredia
Party: Democrat
Age: 43
Education: Whittier High School, Whittier; East Los Angeles Community College; University of Southern California; Chabot College
Background: Teacher and paralegal
Chuck Horner
Party: None given
Age: 57
Education: Woodlawn High School, Baltimore; California Baptist University in Riverside
Background: Minister at Calvary Baptist Church
Dianne McDermott
Party: None given
Age: 67
Education: Tennyson High, Chabot College
Background: Businesswoman
Araceli Orozco
Party: Democrat
Age: 37
Education: Tennyson High, Chabot College
Background: Educator and consultant
Luis Reynoso
Party: Republican
Age: 48
Education: Mt. Eden High; Chabot College; Cal State Hayward
Background: Teacher
Loretta R. Robertson
Robertson stated that she is no longer running due to a health condition that recently developed.