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Santa Monica Education Activist Plans School Board Run
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Convention and Visitors Bureau Santa Monica

By Jonathan Friedman
Associate Editor

March 28, 2016 -- There will be at least one challenger in the November election for three seats on the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District (SMMUSD) board.

Jon Kean, a 12-year District volunteer, submitted the paperwork this week to form a campaign committee.

Kean has never run for office, but he submitted an application in 2014 for a seat on the SMMUSD board after Ben Allen resigned following his State Senate election.

The board appointed Ralph Mechur who received the support of four members. Board member Craig Foster backed Kean.

A Santa Monica resident, Kean’s resume includes two years as president of the Lincoln Middle School PTA, presidency of the Roosevelt Elementary PTA, site council member at three schools and member of the SMMUSD’s Financial Oversight Committee.

“My desire to seek a seat on the SMMUSD Board of Education comes from the reality that if I truly want to continue my work for all the students of Santa Monica and Malibu, I need to do so from the highest and most effective position available to me,” Kean told The Lookout.

He continued, “A seat on the board of education would allow me to be a voice for all the stakeholders in our school district, a voice that has worked from day one for the members of our community trying to create positive outcomes for all of our students.”

Kean could face as many as three incumbents--Mechur, Jose Escarce and Maria Leon-Vazquez. So far, Mechur has expressed interest in running.

Escarce and Leon-Vazquez were both first elected in 2000. They have won re-election in every quadrennial contest since.

Mechur was appointed in 2007 to fill the seat vacated by Emily Bloomfield, who moved to another state. He earned another two years on the board with a win in an uncontested election.

He was re-elected in 2010, but lost in 2014. Mechur’s absence was short-lived because he was appointed back to the board not long after his defeat.

If all three incumbents run in this race, Kean will face a difficult challenge in a district that prefers to re-elect board members.

Since 1994, the only unsuccessful re-election bids were Mechur in 2014, Barry Snell in 2010, Shane McLoud in 2006 and Brenda Gottfried in 2002.

The 2012 election was not a close one, with Allen placing first by a wide margin followed by Leon Vazquez and Escarce in second and third place, respectively.

Those winners are all Santa Monica residents and were the only candidates from the city running in 2012. Three Malibu residents entered the election late in the campaign. Among them was Foster, who won his seat two years later.

The 2016 campaign season has not even begun in many people’s eyes, so it is not unusual that incumbents have not announced in March whether they plan to run.

Hopefuls can begin pulling papers to collect signatures to become official candidates on July 18. They have one month to return them.

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