Withdraws from School Board Race
By Jorge Casuso
August 14 – After failing to win two key endorsements
in the race for three open full-term seats on the School Board,
Judith Meister has pulled out of the race, The Lookout
Meister’s move to withdraw her name from the ballot Wednesday leaves
four candidates – including incumbents Maria Leon Vazquez
and Jose Escarce – vying for three seats on the board. Incumbent
Ralph Mechur is running unopposed to serve the final two years of
an appointed term.
“It seemed that the timing wasn’t right for me this
time,” Meister told The Lookout. “There were
several key endorsements I didn’t get, which was disappointing.
I was being realistic about what it would take.”
Meister failed to win the key endorsements of the Teachers Union and Santa
Monicans for Renters’ Rights (SMRR), the city’s powerful tenants
group. In 2006, SMRR-backed candidates swept all the seats and on School and
It seemed Meister could pose a strong challenge after Escarce failed
to win SMRR’s endorsement at the group’s convention
August 3, when members gave the nod to Mechur, Vazquez and newcomer
Ben Allen, a former student regent for the University of California
Endorses Genser, Bloom; Escarce, Meister Fall Short for School Board
Nod,” August 3, 2008)
“I had thought I had a pretty good shot without the SMRR
endorsement,” Meister said. “It had kept things open,”
she said of the group's endorsement of only two candidates.
But six days after the convention, SMRR’s steering committee
made an unusual, and perhaps unprecedented move, and endorsed Escarce,
who had fallen a vote short of winning the membership’s backing
at the convention. (“Escarce
Wins Late SMRR Nod,” August 11, 2008)
Escarce also won the strong backing of the Teachers Union, which
also endorsed Vazquez, Allen and Mechur.
“I was disappointed at not getting the teacher’s endorsement,”
said Meister, who recently finished a two-year term as PTA president at Santa
Monica High School. “It was a shock. I was such a supporter.
“It seemed that the momentum was with the other candidates,”
she said. “It’s politics, and politics doesn’t
always have to do with qualifications.”
Mounting an independent candidacy would have been difficult during a hotly
contested presidential race that could draw a record turnout, Meister said.
“It’s a different election than normal as far as what
you have to do to win,” she said. “I thought it was
better to step back now.”
Meister’s withdrawal leaves the two incumbents and newcomers
Allen and Chris Bley in the race for three seats. Incumbent Kathy
Wisnicki chose not to run for re-election, extending the deadline
to submit nominating petitions until August 13. No other potential
candidates submitted papers by the 5:30 p.m. deadline.
Meister has not discounted running for a seat two years from now and says she
plans to stay active as a parent and education advocate, pushing for long-term
funding for Samohi and “education reform”.
“I do know I have a lot of support in the community, and people will
be disappointed” with the decision to drop out of the race, Meister said.
“I’m still going to be as active as I can be,” she said.
“My commitment is there, and I think I can be effective.”