With the Contra Costa Board of Education preparing a misguided power grab and with longtime county schools Superintendent Joe Ovick about to retire, it's essential that voters select a well-prepared replacement.

That's why Deputy Superintendent Karen Sakata is the obvious choice in the June 3 election. After 14 years as a school principal, Sakata has worked in the county Office of Education for the past six. She understands the complex policy issues facing a superintendent -- and the importance of keeping the job independent.

Her opponent, education consultant Linda Delehunt, is unprepared, as she was during her failed 2012 Orinda City Council campaign. Amazingly, Delehunt has no opinion on whether the post she seeks should answer to the county Board of Education or the voters.

In 1978, 78 percent of county voters rejected the idea of giving the board control of the critical post. Trustees are considering putting the issue on the ballot again in November.

The superintendent's broad responsibilities include reviewing and approving budgets of local school districts, providing the first warning bell when school districts teeter on the fiscal edge.

That critical financial review should be separated from the politics of an elected board, carried out by someone directly answerable to voters -- someone who understands the importance of independence.