PIEDMONT -- Six school board and City Council candidates touted their experience and shared their views at the League of Women Voters of Piedmont forum held Jan. 9 in the Council chamber.
New League president Hope Salzer emphasized that the League is a nonbiased, grass-roots organization that does not endorse candidates but provides an opportunity for the public to learn their positions on issues.
Three candidates -- Doug Ireland, Amal Smith and Hari Titan -- are running for two open four-year seats on the school board. Members serve without pay. The election is Feb. 4. Early voting began Jan. 6, and Jan. 20 is the last day to register to vote.
Ireland, a retired financial executive, has lived in Piedmont for 17 years. He has served on school site councils and the Piedmont Education Foundation. Smith, a 15-year Piedmont resident, works at the Office of the President for the University of California and has a strong background in financial management. She has served on the Education Foundation board and is a member of the district's Budget Advisory Committee. Titan is a computer scientist living in Piedmont since 2008. He supports using an electronic "town hall" to inform the board on parent's views,
Candidates answered questions from the audience. Regarding upcoming challenges for the board, Ireland cited a possible transition of leadership regarding the superintendent. Smith pointed to the implementation of the new Common Core standards and ever-changing technology, while Titan said students need to be creators of technology, not just users of it.
When asked about the plan to renovate Alan Harvey Theater with a $13.5 million ballot bond measure, Titan said he believes "the public is in sync with the decision."
"It takes more money than you think it ought to," Ireland said. "I'm confident we'll get to the right spot. Roll out a marketing plan."
Smith said she hopes the community "wants to spend the money."
The candidates discussed how better the school board can collaborate with the city. Smith embraced an idea floated by someone who suggested the high school library could be utilized by the public. Titan supports the idea of funding a school safety officer on campus.
In closing, Titan said school board actions should be synthesized online somehow for parents who don't have time to attend meetings or read lengthy minutes. Former school board member June Monach used to provide summaries of meetings to serve that purpose.
Ireland said he doesn't like long meetings but would do his best to be "a steward of the educational process." Smith said the board needs to work collaboratively, seeking a variety of opinions.
The three candidates for City Council -- Jeff Wieler, Tim Rood and Teddy King -- are running for three open four-year seats. The election is uncontested.
Wieler is seeking a second term and cited his experience with labor negotiations and financial management. Rood is a strong supporter of green initiatives and a city planner. King served on the Park Commission and the Recreation Commission and has worked with several regional politicians.
The three support keeping fire safety staff at current levels and the new license plate readers installed in town. Wieler and Rood said it's important to address the looming sewer fund deficit. King advocates stepping up communications with the school district and promoting interactive technology. The three generally support mixed-use development in town where possible.