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Former Santa Monica Council Candidate Aims for School Board
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Convention and Visitors Bureau Santa Monica


By Jonathan Friedman
Associate Editor

July 22, 2016 -- Phil Brock nearly won a seat on the Santa Monica City Council in 2014, but he will not be trying again this year.

He has chosen instead to run for a seat on the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District (SMMUSD) board.

“I will run for the school board because I believe the best way for me to help the city is to focus on our children and our teens,” Brock told The Lookout.

Picture of School Board Candidate Phil Brock

He added, “I am concerned about the district. I have also been concerned about the state of the schools. I think we can do better.”

Brock, who chairs the City's Recreation and Parks Commission, said he reached this decision after doing “some soul searching and thinking about what I really care about.”

He placed fourth in the 14-person field for three council seats in 2014. Brock is aligned with what many political observers call the slow-growth movement.

Although observers associate him with issues the council deals with, Brock said he has always been involved in education.

His adult working life began as a teacher and coach in Los Angeles. The Santa Monica native has served on SMMUSD committees and is president of the Samohi Alumni Association.

Brock said he also has interacted with the district during his time on the Recreation and Parks Commission, which will come to an end next month after nearly 14 years due to term limits.

He said he wants to be a “proactive” school board member and that most of the current board is “reactive” and “complacent, with the exception being Malibu resident Craig Foster.

Brock called Foster, who was elected in 2014, “the person who has had the courage to speak up.”

He said he is troubled by what he called substandard facility conditions and too many students leaving for private schools, among other issues.

Brock also said the SMMUSD’s legal battle over environmental issues at Malibu High School has not been handled well. He said the district is “spending money fighting parents and fighting kids,” which he called a “mistake.”

He supports Malibu’s effort to create its own separate school district.

There are three open seats on the school board this fall.

Incumbents Ralph Mechur and Maria Leon-Vazquez are running. Fellow incumbent Jorge Escarce will not seek a fourth term. Jon Kean is the only other announced challenger so far.

Candidates have until August 17 to enter the race.

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